Is Complaining Contagious?

Emily was right, you know.  In her last blog she said she rarely complains, and she’s right.  Her right foot could be broken with her fingernail barely hanging on by the cuticle and head split open, and her response would be, “I’m alright.  I’ll be fine.  I don’t think I need Advil yet.”  She just doesn’t complain. 

Unlike me who’s favorite hobby is to forever think of some “horrible thing” that is going on in my world and to harp on it endlessly.  Like hiking…seriously, people, who ACTUALLY LIKES HIKING?!  I mean besides my best friend.

Anyway, while Emily was being convicted by the Holy Spirit about her instance of complaining and recognizing the truth of Philippians 2:14, I was being convicted of that very same thing but from a different perspective.  Between my time with her on Sunday while we were hiking to my Monday night Bible study, it was weighing heavily on me about how my complaining affects my worship.  Follow me on this….   

The Bible has so many verses on worship.  Psalm 95:6 says, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”  Psalm 100:2 tells us, “Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into His presence with singing!”  “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name,” Hebrews 13:15.

There are instances where we see Abraham, Daniel, David, the woman at the well, the creatures and elders in heaven…all of them are worshipping Him.  And it wasn’t just a one-time thing.  Worship of our Savior should be a sunrise to sunset thing.  It should be all hours of the day and night.  Every time we are awake, our posture should be one of worship.

But how does that work when you’re constantly complaining about work or family or the stresses of your life?  I’m not saying everything has to be roses.  In fact, God tells us to bring our burdens to Him; He recognizes there are moments and seasons of struggle, sorrow, or anger.  But taking our burdens to Him rather than complaining IS worship!  When all I’m doing in mindlessly whining about my woes to those around me, I’m robbing myself of the honor of worshipping Him and robbing HIM of the rightful worship and adoration!

My complaining should be worship in the form of prayer to God asking Him to remove my negative thoughts that, let’s be honest, are probably trivial and not worth complaining about anyway.  My time spent cooking dinner could be worship as I listen to praise music in the background, singing out loud about how great our God is!  My worship can be a few extra moments reading and meditating on the scriptures that God has given us.  There is so much more to worship and so many ways in which to worship Him!

Dear friends, this week my prayer is to ask the Holy Spirit to remove the complaining thoughts and replace them with a desire to continually worship Him.  With my eyes fully focused on God and in a posture of constant worship, I can strive to be grateful about what I have or am doing through Him!

~Erin

Disdain for Christmas Music

One of the women in the Bible Study I facilitate recently dropped a bomb on me.  With a slight shrug of one shoulder she said, “I hate Christmas music.” Then like a psycho, she just sat there waiting for me to respond.

I’d like to say I was kind and understanding with a grace-filled response.  Instead.  Instead, I’m sure I was slack-jawed and bug-eyed when I nearly screeched, “Are you kidding me right now?!?!?!”  I knew that there were non-Christmas-music-listening people; however, I did not know they existed within my circle of friends!  

Maybe I’m the psycho one, but I have no problem listening to Christmas music year-round. In fact, I have a “go-to” Christmas station pre-programed on Pandora. 

For me, there is something soul-stirring about Christmas music.  Not gimmicky-secular Christmas music (although there is a place for that on my play-list too).  I’m talking about the soul-stirring Christmas music that reminds of Christ’s birth, of angels singing, of wise men traveling, of God’s purpose in sending his Son, and of the ultimate gift we are given by our Heavenly Father.  Those types of Christmas songs truly speak to my heart. 

And I sing them anytime that the mood strikes me…even if it’s nowhere near December.  

In addition to studying the Word and having a healthy prayer life, I would contend that worship of God through music is one of the most effective means to build our personal relationships with Christ.  It’s an act of obedience and one that we will continue once we’re in heaven (for just one Biblical example, see Revelation Chapters 4 & 5 to see how we’ll be worshiping there).

In regards to Christmas music, it helps me remember who I am exalting and the reasons for wanting to participate in the act of worship.  For me, it’s especially impactful at Christmas so that I stay centered on my Christian walk, when society could easily distract me towards the non-essential trappings of the holiday season.  

That may not be true for everyone.  Maybe the Contemporary Christian Music does it, or Grandma’s favorite hymn, or maybe just reading Psalms with classical music in the background is what helps you focus.  

The amazing thing about soul-stirring music that exalts Jesus, is that it doesn’t have to be Christmas music.  Therefore, my sweet friend who despises Christmas music can worship just as effectively with other songs and hymns.  

We can both show excitement for singing at Christmas…without either of us being psycho! 

~Emily

“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises to our God on the lyre.” Psalm 147:7 (NASB)

No Service: A Distraction-Free Zone

Cell PhoneNo service or the spinning wheel of death usually causes a groan because I can’t access Google, Facebook or text messages. It often happens at the worst time, such as when I need directions in some remote area of Amish country.  Or worse, when I’m standing in a line…bored and needing some electronic entertainment. It’s annoying to not have service on my cell phone.

Except that there is one place where I don’t receive cell service that it isn’t annoying. It’s the one place I’m grateful I don’t get service.

At my church.

I don’t get one single bar.  A continuous spinning wheel of death.  Repeated “Not Delivered” messages.  Not a tiny, itty, bitty inch of service.

And I’m glad for it.  Why?  Because it’s a total and complete break from social media and obligations through my electronic lease.

It’s a relief to have that chain broken so that I can 100% focus on God and the people within the walls of the church. I literally have no excuse to not get involved, to not engage in conversation, to not fully worship and pray.  I have no buzz in my pocket tugging me away from being present in the moment.  No service means no distractions while I’m in the walls of the church.

Have you found yourself distracted while in your church?  It may be your phone, your child, your worries from work or even your spouse. Those distractions tear your attention away from God.

*Focus During Worship

Have you struggled with focusing on God while the worship music is happening? Are you self-conscious about singing in tune?  Perhaps you are wondering where the singer got her adorable dress? Fretting over clapping verses raising your hands in praise?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during worship time.

You can sing like an angel or roar like a lion, but not say one thing to God. You can be tone deaf or not care for a particular song, but speak to the Father fully from your heart.  I would encourage you to examine yourself and figure out if your words of worship are simply lip-service or if you are truly offering a song to the Lord.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” ~Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)

*Focus During Prayer

During times of prayer, does your mind wander? Are you making a grocery list? Thinking about your child’s homework? Wishing you could pray more eloquently?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during prayer time.

You can get loud and pray boldly, but your prayer still won’t touch Heaven. You can stumble and use verbal pauses…..ummmmmm….., but speak directly to the Father’s heart.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are just tossing words around or are you offering a sweet sound of praise and request to the Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” ~Psalm 18:14 (NIV)

*Focus During Service to Others

When you are serving others, are you considering other things you could be doing? Do you feel a sense of obligation rather than joy? Are you watching your watch, wishing the time away?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during times of serving others.

You can volunteer for dozens of organizations, but your service can be unpleasant to the Lord. You can serve one person in a seemingly mundane manner, but make the Father proud of you.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are serving others for yourself or are you offering the gift of your time as praise to the Lord.

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” ~Mark 9:35 (NIV)

These are just three examples of where we, as Christians, need to focus:                     During worship. During prayer. During service to others.

Through focusing on God, we need to mitigate distractions.

While my phone is an asset for staying connected in business and personal relationships, it can also become a distraction.   A distraction that has been eliminated based on the lack of a service area.

I am grateful for the elimination of that distraction.  It’s one step closer to staying focused on the Lord!

I pray that you have deliberately focused week that is free from the distractions of the season!

Merry Christmas!

~Emily