Running as an Act of Worship

tumblr_nw5s63GsbW1uskctzo1_1280On my morning run today I tried something different. Instead of listening to worship music I opted for a podcast. My reasoning seemed solid, I could get in my run and listen to one of my favorite podcasts that I never seem to have time for – two birds, one stone. Listening to the podcast during my run was a success time-wise, and I even managed to clock one of my better paces, but I found I missed my normal routine.

Typically, my runs begin with prayer. I reflect back on the prior day and have a talk with God about both the good and the bad. I ask Him to forgive my transgressions and then run through my daily prayers. I then crank up the praise music and celebrate with God the blessings of being able to run. Currently, I’m on a Tobymac kick (it’s a kick that’s lasted about three months); his music is both fast-paced and packed with praise. Occasionally, much to the chagrin of my fellow runners, I even catch myself singing out loud. I’m positive the city is working up an ordinance to address my lack of vocal skills.

The point is that my entire run becomes about God rather than about me. I may look like a solitary runner, but the truth is God is right there with me. My run is then transformed from simple exercise into an act of worship. Because of this, my runs are among the high points of my week.

And I missed that worship this morning. 

So with my apologies to Albert Mohler and his The Briefing podcast, it’s back to worship tomorrow.

 

 

Worship Drumming 101: What's Your Motivation?

DSC_0217ClarkDisclaimer: I’ve served as the drummer on my church’s praise team for going on six years now and the experience has taught me quite a bit about playing the drums in a worship environment. By no means am I an expert, in fact, I am often frustrated by my lack of skills! However, I thought it might be beneficial to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years …. thus, Worship Drumming 101! 

What’s Your Motivation? 

Playing the drums in a worship setting such as your church is unlike any other music gig you will ever encounter. There are many wonderful reasons to join a praise team. Here are just a few:

1. To hone your skills: Praise teams provide a wonderful opportunity to develop and maintain your chops. When I first began playing in my church, I hadn’t played regularly in almost twenty years. Needless to say, I was rusty! I was greatly frustrated with my inability to do the things I used to take for granted. At times, I still find myself unable to reproduce with my hands and feet the music I’m hearing in my head, but I must admit I can feel myself getting a little better with the experience. Each week our team provides the music for two worship services and holds two or more practices .. it’s hard not to improve under those conditions. Additionally, while some are harder than others, the learning curve on most contemporary praise songs isn’t too steep, so it’s a good opportunity for a young or inexperienced drummer to learn.

2. It’s fun: You play the drums because it’s enjoyable, right? Playing on the praise team allows me the opportunity to do something I enjoy on a regular basis.

3. Relationships: When you are part of a team you will develop relationships with the other members of that team. The other members of our team have become some of my best friends in our church. It certainly beats banging on the drums alone in the privacy of my house!

4. It is an opportunity to serve others: Worship teams provide a vital function within a church … they help lead others in the worship of our Lord and Savior! This isn’t just the responsibility of the worship leader … believe me, the drummer has a big part to play in the process. Think about it, the drummer makes or breaks the worship experience. The whole thing can be ruined with a poorly timed fill or by playing a song too aggressively … however, a song that’s timed well and tightly played can help the worshiper get into the groove of worship.

5. It is an opportunity to worship our Lord: This is our best motivation for serving on the praise team. Every week I get to sit behind a drum kit and worship Jesus Christ! No other motivation even comes close to this one! What a blessing it is to worship Christ by doing something I love to do!

If you’re a drummer, let me encourage you to connect with the praise team in your local church. If there’s not an opening on the team, ask them if they need help with sound or with the stage crew. Eventually, such opportunities may turn into the chance to sit in and play. I promise you it will be worth it.

 

Eliminating the Ands

A.W. Tozer

In his book Pursuing God, A.W. Tozer challenges readers to identify what it is in addition to God they are seeking. Tozer puts it this way, “The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the ‘and’ lies our greatest woe. If we omit the ‘and’ we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.”

As I read Tozer’s words for the first time the other day, I couldn’t help but fill in the ‘and’. What I discovered was frightening. It seems there has always been an ‘and’ in my life. Rather than seeking God alone, I have tended to attach other desires to Him and elevate them to equal status. Financial security, doctrine, influence, recognition, love of the world … I could probably fill this page with my list of ‘ands’.

Ironically, not all ‘ands’ are bad. For instance, there is nothing wrong with praying for and striving to achieve financial security for your family. The danger, however, is when we elevate the ‘ands’ to equal status with God. It turns us into fair-weathered Christians who recognize and praise God only when our ‘ands’ are being attended to.  Our love for God becomes contingent upon the fulfillment of those sacred desires we have attached to Him.

When our ands suffer, we find ourselves turning away from God.

God promises that He is all we need. The Bible suggests that that if we seek God first all our other needs will fall into place (Matthew 6:33). I’ve reached a point in my life where all I want is God. I want to let go of my ands and allow Him to sustain my life.

I’m not confident I can do it. But my deepest desire is to seek Him first. I want to elevate God to the proper station in my life. I want Him set above and beyond all other desires of my heart. I’m confident that if God comes first I can survive the loss of everything else.

You may ask how I plan to achieve the elimination of my ands. As I write this, I only have the vaguest of plans. I hope to begin by taking the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and offering praise to God in all circumstances. Too often, I praise God when things go well for me and curse Him when things go awry. By praising God in all things, I hope to blur the line between the secular and the sacred. I want every moment of my life, even the mundane moments, to be cast in His shadow.

I have come to realize that nothing but God will ever truly satisfy me. And my prayer is that this is the year I put things in their proper order.

How about you? What are your ands? Is there anything in your life you have placed on equal status with God? If so, pick up a copy of Tozer’s Pursuit of God and join me in eliminating them.