for the Essentials In Worship Leading Certificate Course with Dan Wilt
"To be really free in worship leading, I have to know that God is fond of me...How can I confidently worship and lead others if I'm not sure how he feels about me?" ~Andy Park in To Know You More,49.
As early as I can remember, I have known and sung the song "Jesus Loves Me." I have recited John 3:16. I know God loves me, have told others that God loves them, and have sung countless songs about the love of God.
What I didn't realize until a few years ago, however, is that my heart didn't really believe it. Intellectually I knew the truth, but truth that only resides in the head might as well not be truth at all as what I truly believe is lodged within my heart. I might be able to control my actions out of my mind, but my heart will dictate the motivation behind those actions no matter what my head might try to tell it.
You see, while with my head I believed that God loved me, my heart believed that His love for me is not as great as it is for others, that somehow I was flawed beyond love and that in order to receive His love, I had to be really, really good. Making mistakes meant less love. Doing things correctly equaled more love.
And these thoughts weren't things I could have told you were even there. I had no idea. As far as I knew, I believed that He loved me completely.
It was when I first did Beth Moore's "Believing God" online Bible study that I began to get an inkling that maybe an insidious lie or two about God were lodged somewhere in my heart. Beth says that we act on what we believe, whether those beliefs are in our conscious thought or not. She takes participants through a series of Scripture exercises designed to reveal hidden beliefs that sabotage our lives, however minutely.
And the lies began to surface. Lies like ones I've already mentioned and then some.
Then along comes Bill Johnson. On an apparent whim (I know now that it was totally a Holy Spirit set up!), I signed up for a conference in my area called Texas Ablaze. I didn't know much about the speakers, only that I had recently read an article by one of the them that had resonated strongly with me.
I was blown away.
Every session left me hungry and longing for more of God. Bible reading was revitalized; my heart was awakened to new levels of communion with God. The last night, Bill Johnson spoke. I had never heard of him, and I'll never forget how he started out that service.
"God is in a good mood. He might be angry but not at you. You are hidden in Jesus." The crowd chuckled, at which point he reiterated: "No, I'm serious. God is in a good mood."
Bill went on to drop nugget after gold nugget of profound truth, mined throughout a lifetime of being pursued by God and responding whole-heartedly to that pursuit. I could not write fast enough. My mind and my heart were being renewed at an accelerated pace.
And so marked a point in my journey towards more truth and greater freedom. I began to realize that I had been living under the constant pressure of not wanting to make a mistake so that God wouldn't be angry with me. As I read Scripture with this new, Spirit-breathed perspective, I became convinced that I am in Christ and that I am a new creation. Jesus' work on the cross paid for my sins completely, and His power at work within me is more powerful than the sin that so easily entangles.
God is not waiting to catch me doing wrong things, as my behavior indicated that I believed. Rather, as Beth Moore puts it, God is counting each time I believe Him and act on His truth. He celebrates.
The image I realized that I had was of God, finger poised, ready to shake it at me when I messed up. I was being motivated to make good choices out of fear of His anger rather than out of an understanding of His great love for me.
I could go on and on about the lies exposed and the truth God revealed to me about Himself, and maybe sometime I'll take the time to chronicle those. For now, suffice to say, I am on a journey into the heart of God. With each level I am becoming more and more convinced that not only does He love me, He likes me. He's fond of me and enjoys spending time with me.
And you know what? He is fond of you too. Super fond, really. You are His favorite. He's not focused on that mistake you made yesterday when you yelled at your kids or spent more time on the computer than you should have. He's not focused on your addictions, however horrible and debilitating they might be. He's not focused on your infidelity, your lies, your habitual sins.
No, He's focused on you. You are the object of His affection. And if He points out a sin, it's not to shame you and shake a finger at you. It's so He can reveal His love to you that sets you free. He sees your mistakes and your sins and says: "Hey, look at Me! I love you. You can be free. Let Me love you and show you how."
In "Believing God", Beth gives 5 truths that have been lifelines for me in this process:
1. God is who He says He is.
2. God can do what He says He can do.
3. I am who God says I am.
4. God's word is alive and active in me.
5. I can do all things through Christ.
May you become more fully convinced today of how fond He is of you. May you become increasingly aware of the light of His face shining on you. May you see His kindess leading you to repentance. And may you experience a deep revelation of His love for you that transforms you more fully into the likeness of Jesus so that you might lead others to worship Him in spirit and in truth.