Summer in the Psalms
We often assume that prayer is what good people do when they are at their best, but that isn’t true! Prayer is what imperfect people do with their imperfections. We all have a stain in our lives. As hard as we try on our own to scrub it out, it won’t ever go away. Conviction might be uncomfortable, but it’s a gift from God that brings us back to Him whenever we are heading in the wrong direction. When we genuinely repent, or get real with God, we can experience joy!
Aaron Brockett • Summer in the Psalms • Psalm 51
Series: Summer in the Psalms
Message: Get Real
Pastor: Aaron Brockett
Study Guide (PDF)
Good morning everybody. It’s good to see you today. I want to welcome all our guests and first-time visitors across all our campuses. If this happens to be your first time, we’re so thrilled you are here whether you are joining us from North, Downtown, West, online, and those of you here at Northwest. It’s good to see you today. In fact, at all of our campuses, can I hear you make some noise? It’s good to have you today. Today I really want to encourage you. If you’re checking this place out, if you’re here and you are, “We are here. We are on mission. Traders Point is our home.” I really want to encourage you to go to Growth Track immediately following our services at all of our campuses. Growth Track is designed to help you identify and take your next step toward greater growth and connection, regardless of who you are. We’d love to see you there. It’s for everybody, even if you’re just checking the church out. You do not have to take Growth Track in order. Today is week number four, and you can jump right in where we’re at and circle back around. We’d love to have you there. It is for everybody. I’ve had a number of people come up and say, “We’ve just moved to Indy from out of town, and we were super-involved in our old church. Do we need to go to Growth Track here?” Yeah, we’d love to have you in Growth Track. We have people who have been around for 10, 15, 20 years and have never been to Growth Track. They think it’s for new people. No, it’s for you too. We want you to go to Growth Track so you can identify and take your next step toward greater connection and growth. Today it’s just getting plugged into a team. That’s what its all about. I just want to encourage you that your church experience will get way better if you don’t just attend, but you serve on a team somewhere. We find that story to be true over and over again. You may not believe me yet, but I’m going to keep telling you. I’ve had lots of people come up to me and say, “We’ve met some of our closest friends and developed some of our deepest relationships with the people we serve with. When life gets hard, we reach out to each other. We celebrate with each other.” I want that for you too. Another thing we oftentimes hear people say is, “We look around and it just kind of seems like you don’t need more help.” I just want you to know that couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. I get it. Last weekend our family went to a different church to worship together as a family, which was really, really nice. I walked into the lobby, into the worship room, and I thought the same thing. I go, “Man, they seem like they have their act together. They don’t need any more help.” Then I immediately was like, “That’s not true.” I know for a fact that’s not true. In fact, I want you to know that this used to happen occasionally but now it’s the norm. We turn children and kids away from Kid’s Ministry every single Sunday just because we don’t have enough people to serve. I’m losing sleep over that. I want to encourage you to jump in and serve on a team if you haven’t already. Next week we begin a brand new series of messages I’m really excited about called Rumble Strip, and I believe we’re going to have fun in this next series. God’s got something specific he wants to say to each and every one of us, as well as our church. Jump in on the first week of that series and invite someone to come with you. But today we are wrapping up this series we’ve been in called Summer in the Psalms and what we’ve been doing is taking a closer look at these 150 chapters that are tucked away in the middle of the Old Testament. There are a number of ways we could describe the Book of Psalms. They are honest.One way we could describe it is refreshingly honest. One of the unique things about Psalms, that is different from many of the other books of the Bible is that most of the Bible is written as God’s words to us. But the Psalms are our words to God. What David does is gives words to what we are feeling, but we’re not quite sure we can say to God. But David gives us permission to and God receives it. David, when he is struggling, he just tells God. When he is wondering where God is, he asks him. And David just allows us permission to come to God as we are and be real with him. I love that about Psalms. They are a collection of songs and poems.Another way we can describe it is a collection of songs and poems. The Psalms just speak to that inner artist that is in all of us. In some of us that inner artist is buried a little deeper than others. If you’re anything like me, that inner artist is there but I haven’t seen him for a while. The Psalms speak to him. Have you ever been in a car belting out lyrics to your favorite song and paid attention to what you were saying? You are saying things in a song you might never have courage to say in a sentence. That’s what lyrics do, they give voice to some things we are feeling when words fail us. That’s what the Psalms do. They are a catalogue of prayers.They are examples of prayers when we’re not quite sure what to say to God and how to pray. I think many of us would say that prayer is a good thing. We know we need to pray more than we do, but if you’re anything like me maybe we just don’t pray as consistently as we should. There are all kinds of reasons for that. I know even in my own life there are times when I’ve not prayed because I’ve been busy, because I’ve been distracted, because I’ve been frustrated, because I wonder if it is really changing anything or if anyone is on the other end of the line listening. There are sometimes, though, we don’t pray because we don’t feel like we are good enough or don’t know enough to pray. So, we just don’t pray. Have you ever been around somebody who, in every single way, seems like a normal person? They are fun to hang out with. They are great to talk to. But then they pray and it seems like they just stepped out of the 1600s. Have you ever been around that person? They are like, “Dear, sweet, heavenly host, we thank thee for thy plentiful bounty that is in front of us and ask thee to nourish thine bodies.” You’re like, “What are you talking about?” We don’t even change our language when we come to God to pray, we just need to be real. One of the most important things the Psalms teach us and reinforce in our lives is this simple truth here:Not only are you allowed to come to God as you are…it’s required. It’s required that we come to God as we are. What other way are we going to come. If you don’t come to God as you are, that means you’re probably being dishonest about some things, or you’re pretending to be someone you are not, or you’re hiding some things. God is like: Listen, whatever it is, it is not going to faze me. I just want you to come to me just as you are. Prayer is not what good people do when they are at their best. Prayer is what imperfect people do with their imperfections. It’s just an invitation to come to God as we are. We see this all over the Psalms, but we really see it today in the one we want to wrap this series up with, Psalm 51. So, if you have a Bible or a Bible app, go ahead and turn to or turn on Psalm 51. As you are turning there, if I could say out of the 150 Psalms, if there was a Psalm we could use or I would want to use to set the tone for who I am as a person, it is this. What I mean by that is the way I interact with God, the way I worship, the way I treat my wife and interact with my kids, the way I am at work and the way I am with my friends—if there was a Psalm to set the tone for my inner life, it would be Psalm 51. If there was a Psalm I would pray would impact our church more than any of the others, and when I say that I mean it will make a tangible difference in the environment and the atmosphere at all of our campuses, that when somebody would set foot on one of our campuses and they may not believe in God, they may not have set foot in a church in a very, very long time—but they set foot on one of our campuses and they would immediately detect there is something different. There is something different about the way we are carrying ourselves as people, there is a humble confidence there, there is a sweet spirit in the way we are interacting, and especially with the way we worship at the church as we gather together. If there could be a Psalm that would describe or inform the way we would be as a church, it would be this one. And so, with that kind of setup, let me read the first three verses. King David is writing this. Listen to his words. I want you to pay attention to the passion, and maybe a little bit of a better word would be anguish around the words he writes. “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.”Now those are some pretty heavy words. This is a good reminder for all of us of one important principle of good Bible interpretation and application—in other words, what are we reading, what is the meaning, and how do we apply it? It really does matter how you read the Bible. Every now and then I have someone say, “I tried to read the Bible, and it was just boring.” I just want to very lovingly but directly cut them off and say, “If it is boring, you’re not reading it right.” The Bible may be a lot of things and you may not even believe it all yet. You may not understand it all yet, but it’s not boring. If it’s boring, it’s because you are reading it in a boring way. This would be a good example. You can’t just read what we just read in a flat, monotone, no inflection, passionless way. Because these are some really deep things David is saying. He is crying out, “God, have mercy on me.” So here is what is happening. David, as he writes these words chances are the pages are blurred because he is writing them through tears. This is David at his lowest moment. And what I want to know is, “Do you have one of those?” Do you have a low moment in your life? I do. I’ve probably got several I could rattle off. I thought about it this last week. What was the lowest moment of my life so far? Maybe you have a date in mind. Maybe it was January 16, 2015--that was the lowest moment of your life. Maybe that particular day you were exposed. Maybe that particular day what you had been hiding got revealed. Maybe that particular day you said something you didn’t mean, but it had lasting consequences. Maybe that particular do you were embarrassed or humiliated and you look back and say, “I never want to relive that day over again. That was my lowest moment.” Can you remember the way you felt? I don’t want to keep you there too long. But can you remember how you felt. And if you can, if you can tap into a least a little bit of the anguish of that, you are beginning to understand what David felt as he writes these words. Here is what is going on for David. David is at his lowest moment. And some of you know that story. To keep a long story short, David slept with a woman who wasn’t his wife, now she is pregnant, so he has her husband killed to cover it all up. So, not a good day generally speaking. We don’t want to do that too many times. So, this is David in his lowest moment. That has all happened. What is worse, in this whole thing is David seems to be unaware of how far off the rails he has jumped. He is acting like he is entitled to her, he is full of pride, and he just seems to be unaffected by the drastic nature of what he has done. That’s when God decides to send a friend of David’s, a guy named Nathan, to go confront him in that moment and bring about a term that I want you to get really, really familiar with today. To bring godly conviction into David’s life. God loves David far too much to leave him in that moment so God is going to pull out all the stops to flag David down, get his attention, and say: David, I need you to come back to me here.So, he sends this guy named Nathan to confront David. Can you imagine being Nathan for one second? Just put yourself into his sandals. That would be a really intimidating thing to do. That would be like you confronting your boss, or you confronting somebody in authority over you. David is the king. Not only that, but David has already had somebody murdered to cover up his junk. So, what makes Nathan think David wouldn’t do the same for him? So, Nathan comes to David and he is a smart cat. He knows if he goes right at David, David will probably fight him and kill him. He was like, “Let me slide through the back door of David’s heart by telling him a story.” He tells David a story about a family who has a sweet little lamb. They love this lamb, but some mean guy comes along and steals the lamb and takes it for himself. David is just so upset by the injustice of this story. He says: That man should be put to death. And now it’s Nathan’s turn to cry. I have no doubt Nathan had tears in his eyes when he looked at David and said these penetrating words to David: You’re the man. You are the guy in the story. And you’ve got to give David some credit here. In that moment, instead of powering up, David was broken. The veil fell from his eyes. There were a number of ways he could have responded to this. David could have gotten defensive with Nathan. Have any of you ever gotten defensive when a friend or a family member confronted you in a moment where you needed to be confronted? Me neither. But hypothetically we could imagine that it might be the case.How many of you have ever denied it, gotten upset, or maybe you make excuses? David could have done all those things, but he didn’t do it. Instead, David receives it. I love how the message paraphrases what we just read.“Soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.”David realizes what he’s done, and his response is to be humble. His response is to receive it. Can I just say this? Conviction is a gift. And we don’t talk enough about it because conviction is uncomfortable and we can all admit that. Conviction is not fun. When anyone comes to you and says, “Hey, we need to talk,” you are like, “Oh no.” It’s never fun, and we can misunderstand godly conviction that is a gift in our lives. Can I say it this way? God’s discipline isn’t to pay you back, it is to bring you back. God is not trying to discipline David to pay him back, he is trying to bring him back. The most loving thing God could have done is to send Nathan to confront David in the middle of that moment. Now conviction sometimes feels like condemnation, but it’s not, because Jesus already took that for you. So, conviction is a gift. If you’re going to follow after Jesus, if you’re going to grow, if you’re going to allow the Holy Spirit to do some heart work within you, you’ve got to get ready comfortably, comfortable with conviction because it’s an opportunity to be transformed. It’s an opportunity to change things. I’ve got a friend—just one friend. No, I have three. I’ve got a friend who has four kids at home, and they are actually a little older now. When they were younger, they had a white couch in their living room that looked much like this one. Just a little bit of counsel for you. If you have young kids at home, you shouldn’t have a white couch. They are very pretty and all, but in just a matter of time it is going to get a stain on it. Sure enough. My friend’s wife was doing some cleaning one day and she pulled up one of the seat cushions of her white couch and noticed there was a grape juice stain on the cushion. She marched all four of their kids in and began to interrogate them. Of course, none of them had any idea what had happened. They were like, “We don’t know where they stain came from.” They said, “We need to know. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere.” Several hours later one of their daughters came in and, through tears, she confessed to the crime. She said, “I know I shouldn’t have done it. I know the rules. I thought I’d be super-careful and it was an accident. I spilled the stain on the couch.” Then she proceeded to tell them how she tried to take care if it. “I tried to scrub and scrub away at it, and nothing would take the stain out.” So, she ended up flipping the cushion over and hiding the stain. You know, Psalm 51 speaks to that guilty little kid in all of us, because if the couch represents our lives we all have a stain [there is a white couch on the stage]. We all have a stain somewhere in our lives. Maybe it was connected to that low moment I asked you to think about a few minutes ago. Maybe it is connected to some sort of shame. Maybe it’s connected to a lie you told that’s always followed you around. Maybe it’s some decision you made. We all have this couch and we’ve all got a stain [pouring grape colored water on the couch cushion]. It’s painful, isn’t it? Some of you who are like perfectionists are like, “I’ve got to leave.” And so, the issue here is that when it comes to this stain, what do you do with it? I think for many of us, when we felt convicted, when we realized our lives were imperfect and it was our fault. There was this thing in us that we want to change, but we don’t know how to change. And maybe for many of us we struggle with it and try to get it out, but it doesn’t work. For many of us, we tried to be religious but it didn’t work. We tried to be moral, and it didn’t work. We tried to be good people, and it didn’t work. We tried for whatever society is asking of us, but the stain is still there. Here’s what many of us have done [Aaron flips the cushion over]. What stain? What are you talking about? Out of sight and out of mind, we can just flip the cushion. But it doesn’t go away. It continues to be there. The issue is, what do we do with the stain? And David, in chapter 51 addresses this. David says the source of his stain is his sin, and God has lovingly confronted him in it. It’s not meant to condemn him. One of the things I’m discovering is the way in which we view the world is oftentimes connected to the way we view God. The way in which we view God is often connected to one of our early experiences with someone who claimed to know, represent, and follow God, whether that was a teacher, a pastor, a parent, an extended family member, a college roommate, somebody we work with. If they were kind, gracious, and loving and they were like Jesus to you, your view of God is much more positive. If they were mean, condescending, and judgmental your view of God is probably negative. Maybe so much so that you left God, you just walked away. And you said, “If that is the way God is, no thanks. I don’t need to feel any worse about myself than I already do.” What I want you to know is God is asking all of us to simply come to him and say, “God, I just want to allow Jesus to do for me what I can’t do for myself.” [Aaron sprays the cushion with stain remover] God comes along and he says: Hey, thank you for going ahead and giving me the stain. Thank you for going ahead and just being real with me and allowing me to do for you what you could never do for yourself. This happened in the last service too. There are some of you who are like, “I know how he did that.” Alright, Mr. Wizard. Just zone back in here with me. Listen, if your view of God is that he is a big traffic cop in the sky trying to catch you doing something wrong, that he is never pleased with your efforts and just wants to ruin all your fun, that is not God. It’s not him. It’s something else, it’s not God. God is for you, he is not against you. God created you and he loves you and wants you to reach your full potential. God says, “I’ve got a plan for your life. It’s a plan not to harm you, but a plan to prosper you.” Jesus gives us direct access to God. The way in which we get that access is first getting real with God. It’s, “I’m going to stop trying manage the stain of my sin. I’m going to stop trying to cover it up. I’m just going to expose it to God. I’m just going to get real before him.” And that’s what David does. Look at this in verse 4. “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”I love how the message paraphrases that. Whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time…Notice how David comes to God and puts it all out there. It takes tremendous courage to say those words. Can I just ask you today: When was the last time you prayed that prayer? “God, here I am. Search me, seek me out, is there anything in me I need to confront?” When was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit confronting you in a moment, and then were receptive to it? There are so many times I’ve felt the Holy Spirit convict me and I don’t want to feel bad about myself because I am having a rough enough week as it is, and I just shut him out. But godly conviction is meant to be a gift, not to destroy us, not to make us feel worse about ourselves than we do, but to urge us to grow. It’s for our own good. Can I just give you and example out of my own life? It just happened last Sunday. Last Sunday night I was taking my son, Connor, to Taylor University for soccer camp. We were driving up I 69. Right about 10 minutes before we get there, it starts pouring down rain. It’s so bad we can hardly see anything. We pull into campus and see the gym where the team is going huddle up before they go to the dorms. There were other teams and other schools there, so there are boys everywhere. He goes in and meets up with his team, runs back out to the truck. It is still pouring down rain. He says, “Dad, we’ve got to go down to the dorms and you’ve got to drop me off with all my stuff.” I didn’t know where the dorms were. All the parents are pulling out of the parking lot, so I needed to follow them to know where to go. Right then there were two young boys who I didn’t know, they didn’t look familiar to me. They ran up to my truck and they were standing in the rain with their suitcases and their sleeping bags. I rolled down the window and they said, “Can you give us a ride to the dorms. We don’t have a ride.” Now this should be a no-brainer. Young boys, standing in the rain, of course get in the truck. Yeah. Not me. I don’t know why this was going on in my head, but let me just kind of let you in on what was going on in my head. It happened in a split millisecond, but here is what happened. My first thought was, “The parents are all pulling out of the parking lot. If I don’t go I’m not going to know where the dorms are, so you’re kind of holding me up.” And then the second thing was, “It’s pouring down rain and you guys are really, really wet. If you get in my truck you are going to get my truck wet, and then I’m going to have to get out of my truck to help you get your suitcases and bags, which means I’m going to get wet. And I’m actually dry right now.” All that went through my mind in one second. I was hesitating. I should have been like, “Of course, guys, get out of the rain. Get your stuff in the truck.” But not me. Finally, I came to and I was like, “Of course. Who are you guys anyway.” “We play on your team.” I knew that. I go and get the stuff and threw it in the back. I drove them to the dorms, hoping they didn’t see the hesitation in my face. I dropped them off, said goodbye to my son, “Have a good week.” I get back in my truck and onto I 69. I’m driving back to Indy and it is still raining.And all the way back to Indy it was like the Holy Spirit was on one of those feedbacks. All the way down it was heavy, heavy conviction. Some of you are like, “Man, you are being a little too hard on yourself.” Well, thank you. I appreciate that. It wasn’t about hesitating in the second. That was connected to some kind of heart issue I need to do some work on. You see, the Holy Spirit wasn’t condemning me, he was convicting me. Do you see the difference? He wasn’t saying: “You are such a horrible person. You should resign from your job. You’re a pastor, for crying out loud.” He wasn’t doing any of that. It was just simply this, “Brockett, wake up!” It was like smelling salts. If you’re going to hesitate in that moment, imagine what you are going to do in another moment when somebody is in need. You need to get outside of yourself. It was a moment I felt convicted, and it was a gift from God, “There is an issue here, and you need to identify it and learn how to grow from it.” There is a monumental difference between conviction and condemnation. God is not condemning you. I can say that so confidently. Do you want to know why? Romans 8, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” John 3:17, “God did not send Jesus into the world to judge or condemn the world, but to save the world.” “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9)That means everyone. Repentance—that is like one of those words where you were with me until I said repent, “No, I don’t like thatRepentance is a beautiful thing. We need to reclaim the word because for some of us it got hijacked by some sweaty TV preacher who said, “Repent.” And you are just out on it all the time. Repentance is a beautiful thing. Here is what repentance means. How many of you have ever gotten lost? Three of you. We’ve all been lost before. When you realize you are lost, you’ve got a decision to make. It doesn’t help if you are traveling down the road and you are like, “I’m lost. I should have taken the turn back there. I’m really sorry I did that. I’m just going to keep going.” No, repentance is like you actually take the next exit, turn around, and go back the other way. Repentance is a beautiful thing. Repentance is a daily thing. Sometimes repentance is an hourly thing. There are two paths that you don’t want to be on. The one path is simply this: I’m not worthy And that would describe the way some of you feel right now. You walked in here today and you have a lot of baggage. You feel like damaged goods because somebody told you that you were damaged goods. And you said, “I’m not worthy of God’s love,” and in that moment the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart and tell you that you are worthy. You are worth the life of God’s own son. The other path you don’t want to be on is this one: I’m not that badSome of you are on that path. “I’m not that bad. I don’t even know if it’s a stain, it’s just a little mark. God grades on a curve, and I’m keeping my eye on those people over there. I’m way better than them over there.” And the Holy Spirit will speak. The question is: Are you listening?We live in a society where we don’t know how to confront in a healthy way, we just condemn. We don’t even know if there is a difference. David is not doing either one of those things. David is not going: Man, I’m just not worthy, God. And he’s not going: God, it’s not that bad. In Psalm 51 we see him doing this right here. We see him receiving the conviction of God. It’s not self-loathing and it’s not self-preservation. He isn’t in denial, and he is not defensive. He is not trying to control the situation, like some of us do, and he is not being controlled. He isn’t pretending to be somebody he is not. David just gets real. That’s maybe the best definition of repentance I can give to you. Repentance just simply means, “Just get real.” I love how author Tim Keller describes the gospel. “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”And that’s why you have heard me say, if you’ve been around here for any length of time, and you will continue to hear me say until my days here serving this church are done. God loves you just as you are. But he loves you far too much to keep you there. God loved David just as he was in that moment, yet there was some work that needed to be done. And God is going to speak to you, and he’s going to release the Holy Spirit to speak and convict, not because he wants to make you feel bad about yourself, not because he wants you to feel condemned, not because he wants you to think you are not worthy, but because he has something better in mind for you and he wants you to grow. The only way you and I are going to come to see that is when we are open to that conviction. Let me say it again:The purpose of God’s discipline isn’t to pay us back, but to bring us back!And when we are brought back, the result of that should always be joy. Joy is far better than happiness because happiness is dependent upon your circumstances. Joy is dependent upon something far beyond that. So listen to what David writes when he wraps up in verse 8:“Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God.” And then in verse 16 he says this: “You do not desire a sacrifice,” and what he is talking about is the Old Testament sacrificial system, the ceremonial system in which you would offer a burnt sacrifice. You would bring in a lamb, a goat, or whatever the best-of-the-best was and you would sacrifice it to God in order to be made right with him for the week. Aren’t we glad we don’t have to do that? It would be super-messy in here.He said: You don’t desire that sacrifice, but if you did, “I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.” In other words, just get real. It’s humility. “You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”That’s a promise. God will not reject a heart that is humble. God never looks at you and says: That sin is one sin too far. I can’t handle that. God says: No, no, no if you are repentant, if you are humble, if you come to me just as you are I will never, ever reject that And all of that sets the table for what I would call lifechanging worship. The Message paraphrases what we just read this way, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, God. I learned to worship when my pride was shattered.” The way in which you come to worship is when you shatter your pride and you realize that you need some help, and you cry out to God for help.And my desire and my prayer is this would shape the way our church worships. When we gather at all of our campuses together collectively and when we raise our voices and sing some songs that it would be a gathering or a group of individuals who come to God with humble hearts and expect they are coming to meet with God. So, one of my favorite memories when I was growing up was fishing with my grandpa. I miss him. He passed away from cancer about six or seven years ago. He would take me fishing a lot. I remember one time we went to my great-grandfathers’ farm. He had a pond in the back. We were fishing. My grandpa put the worm on the hook and got my line set up. He kind of ran down a little way to help somebody else. I was maybe five or six-years-old. I remember taking the rod to cast it out, but I didn’t hit the button right. When the hook went out it snagged, and then it came right back at me. It hooked right in my finger and got me good. It immediately started bleeding and I was trying to tug at the hook, but it was really in there. My response wasn’t this, “Look at that. I’ve got a hook in my finger.” No, that wasn’t my response. My response was more like, “BAAAAAAAHHHH.” I think that adequately captured it. That’s what I did. I yelled out. I got this thing in my finger, and I can’t do anything to get it out. What happened was, my grandpa, as soon as he heard me yell his head jumped up, he dropped his rod, and ran to me in a full-on grandpa sprint. He was trying to get to me as fast as he could. He comes up, gets the hook out, and wipes the blood, and comforted me. And he was helping me. For whatever reason that image was in my head this last week as I was studying this and looking at this. God was like, “Aaron, that’s kind of the way I want you to worship.” Do any of you have a hook in your heart? Are any of you snagged up on something? The response isn’t like, “I’m really going through this difficult thing, and look at that.” No, it’s like, “WHHHAAAA.” I’m going through this thing and I’m crying out. I don’t know what to do with it. God says that when you are humble, when you cry out, when you lay down your pride he runs to you. That’s what I want it to feel like in this room. Judging by the applause, not all of you are with me. That’s okay. Here is my prayer this last week. “God, I would love it if 100 percent of our room, when we worship together, we would all be leaned in. We would just be locked in.” Last year Lindsay and I were in London at this gathering of Christians from all over the world. We worshiped together, and everybody was leaned in. Let me tell you, it was powerful. It was palpable in the room. It is such a far better worship experience when people are in it. And I want to say this as lovingly as I can. Sometimes our worship teams, it almost feels like they are trying to pull a stubborn mule to worship. “Come on guys. Come on, let’s go.” I look around the room, and some of you are just not going to go there. I get it. There may be reasons. There may be good reasons. Maybe you don’t believe in God. That’s a good reason. Maybe you’re new to this. I get all that. I don’t think we’re ever going to get 100 percent of the room, because people are people. We’re all over the map in our spiritual journeys, the week you had, and our background and spiritual journeys in church. But I do wonder if we can get at least 80 percent of the room. What I mean is, just coming every week ready. And you don’t have to like all the songs. You don’t have to like all the instruments. In fact, the Scripture is silent on style. Never once does it say we need to worship with piano, organ, or rock it out with the drum kit and sweet guitar solo. It never says that. And I think the reason why is Jesus knew that through the centuries the style would have to change to reach more people. The piano wasn’t in the New Testament. The piano came out of the bar. Did you ever see the old westerns? There was a piano in the bar, and the church brought the piano to the church because they knew the people in the bar would identify with the piano. And they took a song like Amazing Grace, which is a bar tune and changed the lyrics so that way they would understand the tune. The only thing the Scriptures say about worship is we should worship in spirit and in truth, be real, and that God likes a new song. God says: Make a new noise unto me because I’m doing a new thing in your life. And so, every week when we gather I just want to lovingly guide you. I will never judge your worship, I make you that promise. But as your pastor I will urge you to lean in, and expect the Spirit of God will meet you in this place to speak what needs to be said to your heart to take you the next steps toward greater Christ-likeness. I just want to ask you to lean in and see what will happen. Let me pray for us. In these moments of silence, I just simply want to ask you to pray this prayer: God, search me. Maybe I came here today and I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know there was this thing in me that you wanted me to see. God, help me to be humble enough to receive your loving conviction, knowing that it’s not condemnation. Jesus already took that on. It’s loving conviction, so I will look more like you. I’ll tell you what. If we could get 80 percent of the people in our church doing that, we would change the whole world. Father, we come to you right now and I just ask that right now in this moment it would be palpable, that your Spirit would comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted. That you would search our hearts and help us to see what we can’t see on our own, knowing that you are a good God and you want something better for us. And you will bring about godly, loving conviction to help get us there. So, meet us in this moment we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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