What a great service this weekend! I’m excited about what God did in our midst and am looking forward to Oasis this coming week. If you haven’t yet registered you can regsiter at newsongchurch.com/oasis.
This weekend we sang a bunch of really great tunes:
- At Your Name by Phil Wickham
- Come Thou Fount by Norton Hall Band
- The Mighty Hand of God by Citizens and Saints
- You’ll Never Let Go by Matt Redman
- Unstoppable God by Elevation Worship
Here’s a playlist! But, if you like the songs we sang please purchase them to support the artists who are providing so many excellent songs for the church to sing. Especially the Citizens & Saints album. That stuff is real good.
Last week, I went in to get my hair cut at the same place I’ve been going for over a year now, to the same lady who who has been cutting my hair quite fantastically in that time. Because it’s been some time I showed a picture of the last hair cut she gave me and said, “Give me this.”
Quite nice. Long on the top, combover, short on the side, beard in prominence. Just the way I like it. So, I take off my glasses – making me essentially blind – and she turns the chair around so I can’t squint at the mirror. She begins cutting and trimming. When she finishes, she gives back my glasses, and lets me look. And it wasn’t quite the above haircut. So, I give further instruction, “Just a bit shorter on the sides please, and because of the way my hair grows take up the sides all the way to the part.” And I show her where exactly I mean. Glasses go off, she cuts, gives the glasses back and my hair looks like this:
And, well, it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Awkwardly, I paid and left. And I drove straight home. Alyssa laughed out loud when she saw me; she LOLed at my new haircut. So, into the bathroom I went and buzzed what little hair I had left. And now I look like this:
What does this have to do with worship? Maybe, not much.
I opened up the worship set with a pretty brutal confession, although I tried to make it light hearted. Deep down, unfortunately, I believe God to be as fickle as myself. I’m addicted to Good Work so I think God must be too. Every week my spiritual tempermant is dictated by how much good or bad I do.
For the past two years I’ve had the great pleasure of being coordinating our Oasis conference and this year especially I’m proud of the work we’ve done – God must love me more, we’ll see.
And now that the logistics and behind the scene stuff is done, I’m avaiable to focus on the music we’ll sing and being on stage. Thus my new hair cut.
The anger I felt after I buzzed my head wasn’t proportionate to the offense. I’ve worn this hair style before, most people who’ve seen it have liked it, and it’ll grow back. Actually, less grows back each time, but that’s a different post.
Deep down I thought that if I looked good people would like me more and sing out at Oasis (and Sunday), which is crazy. And if I do my job well I think God will love me more. And who doesn’t want that? So, as much as I preach: “There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any more or any less than He already does” my emotional and spiritual experience suggests otherwise.
And, I know, it may sound like a light hearted conversation, and maybe the shaved head example is frivolous but… Every week I interact with people who seem to think they don’t qualify for God’s love, or worship, or church, or reading their Bible, or prayer. They know in their minds that God’s love is constant and that He is faithful, but they and I don’t know it in our hearts.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard, “But, Tommy, you don’t know what I’ve done…” After uttering this phrase some disappear unable to handle the weight of their guilt, others try and assuage their guilt with behavior management, and others yet lean in to truth that they do not feel.
One of my favorite instances in the scripture is Romans 7 when the Apostle Paul admits:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:15, 18-19
When I share this scripture with folks, and read it myself, I feel a sigh of relief, “Oh, I’m not the only one.” But, what I love even more than Paul’s confession in Romans 7 is his follow up in Romans 8:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,… but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:1, 23-39
Last week I picked the set list really quickly, which never happens. Normally, I labor and labor over the songs we sing. But, in a serendipitous moment I felt like the set was given to me, and I couldn’t tell you why but I chose to ride that wave. Only very late Saturday night driving home by myself from an event did I come to understand why we would sing about God’s unfailing faithfulness in the morning.
Lately, I’ve not felt like I believed the truth of Romans 8, that my story ends in Romans 7 – but my feelings do not determine truth. There’s a classic prayer: “Lord, I Believe Help My Unbelief.” So as I said when I asked you to stand and sing yesterday, “I’m gonna sing precisely because I don’t believe.”
My prayer this week is that we’ll remember that though our hearts are prone to wander there is, “No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”