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The ‘Worship’ Cocktail

worshipPREFACE: In an earlier in post, I determined to share about different areas and seasons in our life that often need holy intoxication. When we allow ourselves to become inebriated with God’s Word and fully embrace it, we experience divine liberation.


I just read about a church in Atlanta, Georgia that is adding skimpily clad aerialists as part of their Sunday morning worship. Don’t bother checking Snopes, it’s true.

Satan is one smart cookie. In this last decade, his deceptive powers have increased a hundredfold. He knows the return of Christ is imminent. His purpose is to use current trend antics to erode the foundation of salvation with distractions that turn church services into a masquerade of worship.

Nowhere in scripture do I find Jesus using strobe lights, bump and grind music and digital sideshows to proclaim the gospel. But, it’s happening every day in churches worldwide. In an effort to draw in the masses, churches are resorting to making worship service a (all-in-the-name of Jesus) three ring circus act.

The applause that follows isn’t in tribute to our Lord; it’s a tribute to the entertainment provided by the master of ceremonies: Satan.

The Master said:
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it, I’m going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, stand them on their ears. The wise ones who had it all figured out will be exposed as fools. The smart people who thought they knew everything will turn out to know nothing.” Isiah 29:13

Christians, OPEN YOUR EYES to the cunning and deceptive methods Satan is using on the stages of today’s churches. It’s a debauchery to Jesus. The pastor at the Georgia church cites that God gifts us with talents and they should be used to praise and worship God. That is true, but not all talents are appropriate to showcase at a church service.

I just don’t see a silk rope draped around a scantily dressed woman, or a shirtless man in tight fitting stretch pants, as a ministry based talent. I know a talented tattoo artist…you see where I am going with this.

If is entertainment based and doesn’t incite heart-felt contemplation about the condition of our heart and need for salvation, it is deceptive and just plain WRONG.

This scripture sum up God’s idea of true worship before Him:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2  

There is a growing trend to make worship services entertainment based. Our focus of praising God for His mercy, forgiveness and redemption of our sin in an expression of reverence and thanksgiving to Him are lost in theatrics.

And then, there is the Beyonce Mass at a California church where hundreds gathered to worship God while listening to her songs.  Go ahead, shoot your arrows at me, but this is massnothing more than a Satan-ordained crusade to dilute the Gospel of Jesus and masquerade a pop star as an idol of God-ordained worship.

People of God, this is not of God. Let me put it another way: STOP embracing these popularized trends as a way to point generation X,Y and Z to Jesus.

The complacency within so many churches is grievous. Maybe it’s time to turn off all the microphones and silence the instruments and let God hear our imperfect voices lifted in praise to Him.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalms 46:10

Much to our chagrin, God doesn’t need us or our praise and worship. He doesn’t proof in worship of our talents and showmanship. Kick your pride to the sidelines. What God desires is a “eyes wide open” approach to worship.

Today’s Prayer:

Father God, cast out any ‘thinking outside the box’ views that are not in agreement with scripture. Remind me that the simple message of your grace and salvation doesn’t require theatrical displays or backdrops.

Open my eyes spiritual eyes to see that Satan stands ready to disguise the gospel of Christ with current trend antics that redirect focus from the life-saving power of the cross and the blood shed for our salvation.

Fine-tune my worship of you to align with God’s Word. Let your spirit reveal worship that is counterfeit and manufactured by the great deceiver, Satan.

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The Perfect Cocktail

coppa-martiniDo you know the Bible has the perfect cocktail for every situation in life?

Bartenders are aware that the most important rule of mixology, the rule that supersedes everything else, is that balance is everything. The same is true in your Christian walk with Jesus. Forget about a splash of this scripture or a splash of that scripture.

To grow in God’s grace, we must look deep into His Word to truly understand and receive the balanced life Christ intends for us to enjoy.

We are quick to assess our Christian cocktail based on needs. A couple parts of joy mixed with a little kindness and love; we throw in a pinch of mercy for good measure. Or, I’ll take two shots of a miracle, one shot of peace, followed by three shots of forgiveness.

If only the Christian walk was that simple. It’s not! Bible cocktail recipes are based on sound doctrine and principles. We can’t just throw things into a shaker and expect it to yield a perfect and balanced Christian life.

The right cocktail of scriptures mixed with prayer is the only way we find balance for whatever weakness, need or struggles we face.

What does God’s perfect cocktail look like for you?

I invite you to visit my blog (DeniseMarksBlog.com) every Monday and Friday for the next five weeks as I share my thoughts on God’s perfect and balanced cocktail for our imperfect life situations. God truly desires for us to find consistency, balance and divine intervention in all things.

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Silence: Blessings in Disguise

“The loveliest gifts sometimes come wrapped in the ugliest paper.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

 

I call out to God, but the heavens are silent. My words seem to fall on deaf ears and my suffering continues. In anger I cry out to God, “where is your goodness, where is your love”– I know you hear my voice, why don’t you answer, why don’t you respond to my desperate pleas?

If your relationship with God sometimes feels like this, you are not alone. When stretched to our limits and in the fight for our life, when darkness seems to be winning and we are overcome with betrayals, addictions, health issues and we can’t find answers, we question God.

But what if our tears, hardships, pain and suffering in this life is really blessings in disguise. What if God purposes these situations to remind us this is not our home, to draw us closer to the cross and to thirst after Him? I believe God hears our cries; he listens and is continually proactive in our life.

We will never understand the inner workings of God in our life but one thing is certain, when life frightens us or gets us down—or when life seems like a battle ground and we feel like we’re alone on the battlefield—our omnipresent God is with us in every moment of any life situation.

In our valleys, when the heavens are silent, when doubt, fear, and transition overwhelm us, we must encourage one another and cling even closer to God. There is no nook and cranny of space that is absent of His presence. Whether you’re aware of it, or not, God is there.

I too, experience seasons of silence in my faith.  Sometimes they are short-lived, other times they seem like forever. Right now is one of those forever seasons for me.  It’s a conscious effort to forge ahead when God is mute and I am overcome by doubt and spiritual aloneness.

My journey with God has become a test of trust, a time to embrace and accept that His silence may actually be a blessing in disguise. Is this a time of training; is there something He wants to teach me? Whatever the reason, it will take as long as it takes and in the process my companions will be darkness and loneliness.

But dawn always follows darkness; loneliness is dispelled at daybreak and intimacy is restored.

“If you let God’s silence do its work, you will come out the other side knowing that you’re not alone, that God longs for deeper intimacy with you, that he’s worth trusting for the journey, and that you’re stronger than ever.”   ― Verla Wallace

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Confessions of a Doing-Addict

ludwig-wittgenstein-quotes-18650Those who know me well will agree I have an exceptionally kind heart and caring nature; that is the good part. Unfortunately, it is my inability to recognize the obvious warning signs of a ‘doing addict’ that causes problems.

Sometimes it takes an epiphany, a thunderbolt moment so to speak, before we hit the pause button in life, inhale deeply and ask, “What does enough look like?” I was about to find out when a thunderbolt moment jolted me to my senses. Perhaps God realized I would never push the pause button; and so, He did it for me.  It was a spiritual awakening long overdue.

An over-giving, doing-addict situation was about to bring clarity about how I valued myself.  Once the haze of deception cleared, my partnership with self-sabotage was revealed. It was MY thunderbolt moment. What internal anomaly caused me to give greater value to the life of others over my own?

I liken myself to an ATM with a dysfunctional operating system that disperses withdrawals carte blanche to anyone who expresses a need. Trust me, random free-loaders aren’t the only ones who are quick to cash in on the fringe benefits of a giving heart; so are many Christians.

Overtime, logic rules and the inevitable happens—the doing-addict goes bankrupt.  Without withdrawal limits in place, energy, happiness, time and money are depleted. I knew it was time for God to restore my operating system. My good-intentions, over-giving energies needed a purposeful balance. My ‘doing addict’ days were numbered.

And so, to gain insight into those situations that trigger my self-destructive choices, I have elected to participate in a behavioral management program that, I believe, will rehabilitate and bring a positive change to my eternal thumbprint.

I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity as a way to cultivate spiritual growth, redefine my goals and give God free reign to my thunderbolt moment.

With the imminent second coming of Christ, my soul senses the Holy Spirit stands ready to infuse each of us with thunderbolt moments that electrify our souls to God’s eternal purpose for mankind.  Life circumstances may differ for each of us, but when God points a thunderbolt moment in our direction, it is best to embrace it with open arms. It will change us in ways we never imagined.

Motivated by good-intentions, doing-addicts inevitably assume the role of an enabler and react to situations based on their impulses. This presents a problem because to exercise our will over God’s divine direction puts us at risk of spiritual, emotional and/or financial bankruptcy.

 

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Living Within the Lines

Live Within the LinesWhen I was a kid, a box of crayons and coloring book could occupy me for hours on a rainy day. It was a free for all with crayons erratically scribbling outside any designated boundary. To stay inside the lines wasn’t a consideration; I was a budding artist.

When finished, the colored page was given to mom who praised me for a job well done and displayed it on the refrigerator door until she found a polite excuse to remove it.

In adulthood the only time I color is with my kids or grandkids and when I do, it’s rare to find a clean page to color. The kids have scrawled over every page in the book with total disregard for the printed lines or direction they move their crayons. When I do find a blank page, I am quick to exercise my proprietary rights and ban squatter privileges to anyone under the age of ten.

For me, a blank color page exemplifies a new start in life; a new beginning in my walk with Christ. It’s like a form of therapy in times of stress and uncertainty.  Every circular motion of the crayon is a reminder to stay within God’s boundary lines for the best outcome. I grow and flourish in my strengths, find comfort, serenity and healing when I choose to be obedient to God’s will.

There is a spiritual awakening that occurs when we discover God’s lines don’t confine or hinder us, but rather provide healing to do the impossible within us. His boundary lines are defined by grace, balance and love. To give Him control of our crayon box is to give Him control of our life.

Are you frustrated and confused about your circumstances and question God’s purpose for your life? Is your life going in every direction and cluttered with scribbles that extend outside the lines of grace?

I encourage you to ask God to help you color inside the lines of HIS will. Our Heavenly Father can color inside the lines of our life better than anyone else.

“Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you. Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.” Jude 21

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Tried by Fire

soapshardsAs the owner of a soap making company, I often test soap product for quality assurance. While cutting into a block of soap base, I noticed the soap crumbled leaving soap shards everywhere.  My heart sank realizing this soap formula might be a total failure. I quickly called my chemist for advice.

There are many different formulas used in creating a soap base. Oil types, raw materials and filtering processes all play a role in the final product outcome.  My chemist explained the lab’s decision to use a mixing process to eliminate small white particles had actually caused the base to become harder.  The harder base was creating the crumbling issue.

Before revising the formula, I decided to test the soap to see how it performed when heated. The soaps my company sells are a melt and pour type. The soap is cubed, melted in a microwave and poured into plastic molds. Once the soap sets up, it is popped out of the molds and ready for use.

My heart raced a bit as I released the first batch of test soap. So far, it was good. Now came the critical moment of cutting into the soap. Would the soap slices be clean and worthy of use or would they crumble and break? I carefully made my first cut. It was a perfect bar. A clean cut refined by nothing more than heat and resulted in a harder, long lasting bar.

As I pondered this, I was reminded how Jesus said Christians are “refined by fire to result in praise and honor when Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). In our Christian walk we sometimes crumble beneath the shards of life and wonder if we can ever be whole. Rest assured, when the heat is turned up, the particles of brokenness are refined and we become ready for use in the kingdom of God.

Just as my soap base was refined by the microwave furnace (so to speak) so is our life in Christ refined by the brokenness we experience in life.  The furnace heat produces gold. It produces something beautiful out of all those crumbling shards. Let Christ be your chemist, let Christ turn up the heat and the final product is guaranteed to be a success.

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Finally…

finallyI tend to live my life in ‘finally’ mode where moments and events are crossed off a mental checklist. It’s like running a marathon to an unknown finish line. There are pit stops along the way, but instead of savoring the moment, I can’t wait until I can finally be on my way again so I can finally arrive at a future moment and finally reach the unattainable finish line.

It’s a destination to destination lifestyle that never takes pleasure in getting there.

The well-known idiom ‘getting there is half the fun’ doesn’t apply to me. I prefer being emailed or beamed to my destination; to heck with stops along the way. I’ll enjoy the trip when I finally get there which translates: OK, we’re finally here, let’s get a move on.

To operate in finally mode robs us of any opportunities to interface with life’s daily moments. There are no exclamation points between each finally, only a trail of dots. Jesus spent his earthly life journeying from one destination to another and a myriad of exclamation points followed Him because He never lost sight of His purpose.

So what is God’s purpose for me and you?

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

We can opt to chase the dots to our next destination, but if the journey isn’t divinely appointed, it’ meaningless.

God purpose for us is to have an intimate relationship with Him based on faith, worship and a heart that desires spiritual growth and a Christ-like character. Short and sweet, God wants to be the blueprint for our temporary residence on earth.

When I find my direction in life disoriented by the finally mode, I know it’s time to slow down and partner myself to the One who guides my steps according to His purpose. Our daily moment’s become anointed as we allow God’s purpose to navigate our life.

When life is finally over, I want God to say WELL DONE (followed by a multitude of exclamation points).