Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aaron Shust: "To God Alone"

From Aaron's new album coming out August 4th. I'm telling you, EVERY song is awesome! This is one of those albums you just put in and let play.
This song came from the idea that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the letters "SDG" at the end of each of his songs. It stands for "Soli Deo Gloria" which means "To God alone be the glory."
What if we lived our lives for God's glory? What would that look like?
What would happen if every time someone congratulated us, we pointed them towards God and said, "Thank Him"?!
What if we stopped taking glory and gave it to God?
Do you try to do things to get glory? (I know I sure don't mind when people tell me, "Good job!")

For a sneak peek at the other songs on his album, check out www.youtube.com/aaronshustube

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let Us Pray!

How do you pray?

Since I was young, I was taught to close my eyes, bow my head and close my eyes. I don't fault my parents for this...I do the same with my own child to keep his rambunctious-ness in check!
It wasn't until about 3rd grade that I had an inkling that some people pray differently than others. My father had been invited to speak at an African-American church. When it came time to pray, I folded my hands and bowed my head.
The pray-er asked for God's help for Sister Johnson, who was suffering some malady, when, to my surprise, a man in front of me almost yelled, "That's right, Lord!"
I didn't know you could talk during prayer!

If your prayer life is stale, here are some other prayer postures found in the Bible. Try them out!
1. Open Your Eyes - The Bible mentions several times that people "raised their eyes toward heaven" when they spoke to God. When we close our eyes, sometimes we miss out on prayer opportunities. With our eyes open, we can see those who need help. We can notice drivers and pray for safety. We can notice the color green! (John 17:1, Psalm 123:1-3)
2. Lift Your Hands - I love 1 Timothy 2:8..."I want men everywhere to lift holy hands in prayer, without anger and disputing." I find it terribly ironic (and funny, and hypocritical) that one of the things we ARGUE about is whether or not it's OK to raise our hands!! I have heard several things that help me when I think of the concept of lifting holy hands to God in prayer. (a) It's like a child reaching for their mommy or daddy. In other words, I just want to be held by God! (b) It's showing God our empty hands. We have nothing to bring to Him but ourselves. (c) It's a sign of surrender. When someone sticks a gun in your back, you lift your hands in surrender. All of these are GREAT things to ponder when in prayer!
3. Kneel - "Come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD, our God, our Maker." (Psalm 95:6) Vassals in the medieval age would kneel before their king to show respect and honor. It's humbling to put your knee(s) to the ground for another person. We should kneel before our King..the King of kings!
4. Lying Prostrate - Lying facedown, spread-eagled is the most uncomfortable prayer position ever. It's also the most humbling. In this position, you are like a child waiting to be picked up. It's also humbling because anyone could come and attack you, but you are defenseless. They could put their boot in your back and you could do nothing about it. The verses that talk about this prayer posture are some of the most heart-wrenching, sorrowful stories in the Bible. This is not a position you would ask others to do in church...this one is completely personal. It is the moment you realize you have turned away from God and need to get back. (Deuteronomy 9:13-19, 2 Samuel 12:16, 1 Kings 18:25-39.)

Please remember, these are not the only ways you can pray! You can pray standing or sitting, at morning or at night, out loud or silently, with others or alone. The point is not how you hold your hands, but that you simply speak with God. He is waiting to hear from you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Accountability Partners

Do you have an "accountability partner?"
I hear this often at youth rallies and religious gatherings. At the National Conference on Youth Ministries, they tell us every year that we should be in an accountability group.
What is an accountability partner?
It is someone that you trust to call when you are struggling spiritually. It is someone with whom you share your secrets. You know them and they know you. It is someone who will call you out when you are not being holy.
All of this is good, but I have continually run into a problem...all the good accountability partners are taken!
I've asked several people and here is the typical answer, "Oh, that's cool. I'm glad you're doing that, but I already have an accountability partner."
I hope I don't come across like a jealous junior high girl, but I don't think I'm the only one encountering this problem.
Since when did "accountability groups" become exclusive? Is this another way to form a friendship group and keep others out? Would Jesus want us to close off these groups when others are begging for friends to help them stay on the high road?
Somewhere along the way, we started another man-made tradition: Find ONE person whom you trust and share openly. It's not a bad thing, but is it the best thing?

*In case you are worrying about me, I have a friend in Michigan who is going against the grain. I'm pretty sure he already has an accountability partner, but he has opened his circle of accountability friends to include me. (By the way, I'm doing OK spiritually...it's just good to have someone ask once in a while!) Thanks, Dave. I appreciate you, bro.