Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Worship

I have this cell phone. It is a Nokia. I bought it because (1) it was little and could fit into my shirt pocket, and (2) it was $50 with a $50 rebate. Where I come from there is a name for that and its called FREE. I never regret paying free for something and its amazing how little buyer's remorse there is when you've paid $0 for something. Its a good little phone with all the basic features, and I could pay Texas Hold 'Em on it until the free trial period ended after 30 days. It sucks because I was up a ton of fake, cell-phone world fantasy cash before it went away. Oh well.

For every bit that I like my phone, I dislike worship music. Pause. Pause. Pause. I was just waiting to be struck by lightning or a Pontiac. My dislike for worship music is based in many things, most of which would require the GDP of a small African nation's worth of therapy to fully purge, but I think that it can be summarized in my inability to offer songs to my creator that lack fire, passion, beauty, or creativity. It like making a cheeseburger for Jesus and choosing to get one from McDonalds. I used to feel really guilty that I didn't like those songs because I thought that it was a vital part of being a christian. I go through periods where I think that I'm liking it, but that normally coincides with some other event in my life that has messed with my mind. Trust me in that I know this is my issue and many people are drawn into closer communion with God through signing worship songs, but I haven't found the place in scripture where singing songs with people is a real priority. So I take my leave to the coffee pot on many a Sunday. Ironically, my response to the coffee is to thank God for his goodness, but they tell me that doesn't count. I guess it was worth a shot.

The reason I bring up these two, seemingly unrelated topics, is that I have found a way to worship God through my cell phone! And no, I'm not talking about calling 1-888-WORSHIP and paying $1.99 per minute so I can sing to Jesus and have it recorded and looped all day every day so my worshipping gets 'maximum bang for the buck'. My cell phone was in my golf bag during a tournament earlier this fall, and I got caught in a downpour. The phone got wet in my bag and something got fried. Since then, my cell phone thinks that an earpiece is plugged in, thereby disengaging the phone's microphone. This makes it so the only possible way to use the phone is to use the speakerphone. Its really more of a walkie-talkie now than a cell phone. But it was free! So, how do I use this cell phone to worship the creator of the universe? Its simply actually; I use it.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, and Peter responded three times to the affirmative, how did Jesus respond back? I can imagine being there with the others and Jesus starts talking crazy again. Three times Jesus? OK! We get it! IF WE LOVE YOU, WE SHOULD FEED YOUR SHEEP. Enough already! But this is a telling conversation because we know that when things are repeated three times in their world, it means that the thing being said is very important. I wonder if we surveyed each other and asked 1000 Christ-followers what they do to show God that they love him. I bet we'd get some crazy responses. But there is a theme throughout the gospels that links love of God to love for people. And more specifically, oppressed and hurting people. It starts at the greatest commandment to love others as we love ourselves (if we truly dig into how much we love ourselves, we'd read that verse with much more humility) and continues through his repeated references to preaching the 'good news to the poor'.

So when I look at my cell phone, and curse the fact that I have to talk on speakerphone in the library, I see an opportunity to worship God. I know that I have these resources that I have been blessed with. I know that there is a need for resources throughout the world. I know that there is a part of my mind that says "I need a new cell phone", but there's also a growing part of my mind that is starting say "you have no idea what real need is". So I make a counter-cultural choice; I'll just keep using it. Whenever I am spending money, I am starting to check myself with the question of my real need compared to what I know is going on out there. A new cell phone would probably cost me $50. That's $50 less in my pocket to pay my bills, and therefore, $50 less that I have to respond to a need. If I truly claim to follow Jesus, and I claim to love him more than life itself, I feel that I must look at things this way. And its far from perfect. But that doesn't mean that I don't start walking down that road. I want to be the real deal. I want to be genuine. I don't want to be an easily-labelled hypocrite. I want to learn to be ridiculously generous and selfless. I want to purge from my psyche the idea what a 'normal life' looks like. I want to love Jesus and bring his kingdom to earth. So I don't buy a new cell phone. When my car breaks down, I buy the most economical car I can find, completely void of any features or upgrades, because I want to feed Jesus' sheep. If I pay $3000 for a car instead of $20,000 for a car, I would save $17,000! That is an amount of money that can dig fresh water wells in Africa, help out a friend facing foreclosure, buy gas for the single mother at the gas station, tend to his sheep.

Do I sell everything and give it to the poor? My friend Mitchell and I had this conversation today. I don't know. But its one heck of a goal isn't it? What kind of character would you have to have to be willing to give it all away? Who would take everything they have, give it up, and become nothing? I know a dude who did that. And even further, he gave to the point of sacrifice. I get the idea that Jesus doesn't want us to seek comfort, and then give what we have in excess of that. He calls us to give till it hurts, just like he gave till it hurt. And out of that is where our character is grown and refined. So its not really about dollars paid; its about pain paid. Do I EVER really seek pain for myself so that another will benefit?

So every time I pick up that old Nokia, I resist the urge to start talking about my needs. I ask God for some of his true perspective and then start looking for some sheep to feed. That's the life man.




4 comments:

Mr. Clean said...

Wow, now I feel like crap about spending so much on a car!! Then a deer goes and parks his butt on my hood. Was that God telling me to spend more money in Africa? Hey have you moved out of your parents basement yet? Also, I haven't gotten my latest issue of Renassiance Fair Magazine yet have you? Anyway, I think your blog is cool as far as blogging goes. You are definately the best blogger on your blog, holding a kabob. You make very good points and now I am rethinking that Iphone. What about Sprints version??? I will be looking forward to your next.....wait, is that your Mom calling down the basement stairs to you? I'll get back later with you.
Peeace.

Sam said...

dan, i remember talking with you about "worship" music and being frustrated, and at the time it was a new concept for me and i didn't quite understand it. that stuck with me though. i have been chewing on that for a long time now. part of me says it shouldn't matter what it sounds like or what the words are because its not about "my" likes, "my" needs, "my" wants... its not about me. but on the other hand, if we are singing about the Creator... God... shouldn't it be a little better than this? i'll keep chewing on it brother thank you.

now about the parable, what about this? when Jesus told the rich man to go and sell all his possessions and follow Him... did he mean that literally? or did he know that the mans possessions were more important to him than following Jesus. if Jesus meant it literally, don't you think that it would effect us more. that more of us would be challenged to do that? but on a realistic level, if it was just me, i would be more inclined to do that but i have a family now which makes things a little more different when Jesus is essentially telling me to go and be "home-less" .

let me know.

keep it up.

Einstein's Butterfly said...

Dan the Man-
I also struggled at first when you had mentioned to us your more-than-mild aversion to contemporary worship music. I can respect your position and opinion, regardless of the cause, but I ask you this - how do you experience worship, then?

We can all worship God in simple ways throughout our days. I have had many enlightening conversations with His Utmost while mowing the lawn, although some more gracious expressions were mouthed after the mower produced fire.

My personal experience with worship can best be described as feeling "filled with the Holy Spirit" and it is most passionate while leading worship songs with others, but I'm able to reach the same level of intimacy with God by simply listening to music written by lyricists that have experienced similar situations in life as myself, whether Christian or secular.

If you really think about it, we were all created by Him. He desires a relationship with us. It may only be a matter of who has acknowledged and is actively seeking Him and who is just commenting on "life in general" that can separate Cristian vs. secular artists.

"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?"
-Albert Einstein

Can't wait meet little Bauer.

Peace, bro.

Jahan said...

God made me. God doesn't make junk.