Guest Post w/ Adam Rosenfeld - Worship is the Reward: Why It's OK to Lose Yourself

Our next guest blogger in the "Defining Worship" series is Adam Rosenfeld. Adam is a friend and fellow blogger as well as amazing musician and worship leader. He is very transparent in his writing and never fails to speak such truth and encouragement. We interviewed his wife Bethany a while back so we are happy to feature the other half of this power-couple from Jerusalem! Check out more thought-provoking posts like this one on his website. You can also keep up with him on Facebook and on Twitter (@AdamLRosenfeld). 
Enjoy!
T+B

Worship is the Reward: Why It’s OK to Lose Yourself

I have this memory of once receiving a birthday gift from my brother circa when I was 8 years old. By the time I was born, he was all grown up and out of the house. He would come to visit every once in a while, and one day he came by to give me a present for my birthday. He handed me a rectangular, heavy object. I took it from him and tore away the wrapping paper. What could it be? A box of Transformers? A new video game? To my utter dismay, I found that I was holding a dictionary. A dictionary… for my birthday. I was so disappointed that I actually cried, right there, in front of my brother. I made no attempt to look happy or say thank you to him. It was awful. My brother just left the house and was gone. I’ve felt bad about that moment ever since.

And as bad as I feel about that moment, we tend to do the same thing to God all the time.

Doing it Wrong

I have been blessed with a gift from God. He gave me the ability to worship Him through music. In my early teenage years, I learned to play guitar, sing, and write songs. Later on in life, He gave me opportunities to play on worship teams, lead worship, and to be on staff with a worship ministry. But I didn’t always appreciate those opportunities as I should have. At times, I saw them as a means to an end. I thought that if I chose to use my gifts in worship, God would “be nice to me” and one day let me do the other stuff I wanted to do in life. This shows that I didn’t understand the gift I’ve been given.

The truth is that God isn’t just “nice” to me, He loves me. He loves me so much He gave me all these opportunities to worship Him. And yeah, maybe my brother gave me a dictionary to express his love. But God knows me on a deeper level, and gave me gifts accordingly. But in my heart, I treated both my brother and God the same.

Lose Yourself…

King David understood this concept of God’s gift of worship. He was “a man after God’s own heart,” as the Bible says (1 Sam. 13:14). When the ark was being brought into Jerusalem, his response was to remove his royal garments and dance before God with all of his might (2 Sam. 6:14). The source text for this historical account implies “whirling and twirling.” Can you imagine some of today’s world leaders taking off their suit jackets, and whirling and twirling in public? That’s not the kind of PR these guys are usually looking for.

But here’s the point - we all need something to whirl and twirl about. A long time ago,  the Israelites in the desert tragically decided it was in their best interest to worship a golden calf. It says that after they made sacrifices, and after they sat down to eat, they “got up and played” (Exodus 32:6). The source text here implies “laughing in a playful manner.” Although this is not exactly the same thing as “whirling and twirling,” I believe that both have something in common. They both allude to the desire to cast off inhibition.

The account of David dancing before the Lord also hints that he took off his clothes to do so (2 Sam. 6:20). My understanding of this is that David removed the garments that identified him with royalty in order to worship God. He cast off his royal status before Him - he lost himself.

We all need something like this in life. We need something that warrants a total casting off of our social order - of our inhibitions. We need to somehow get to that place where we totally lose ourselves. This is a big theme in our culture. “Lose yourself to the music.” “Go wild to the beat.” Sure, I get it. I’ve been there, many of us have. Be it the beat, the music, the pop star, the rock band, the hippie bonfire festival - whatever. Those things don’t have the ability to properly receive our deepest adorations. They are not worthy of the casting off of all our inhibitions. All we do is lose ourselves, and we end up, well, lost. And then we have to go find ourselves again. This just sucks the energy out of us. Often it keeps us in an endless cycle of working to find ourselves just so we can lose ourselves again. And in the end, we never accomplish what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives.

…To Find Yourself

But when we lose ourselves in worship to God, we indeed find ourselves. He is the only one worthy to receive our loss of inhibition. And that’s how we’re supposed to worship Him. Not as a means to an end. Not as something that will make us more righteous. Not as something that will open more doors for work/ministry/recognition in life - no. Worship itself is the reward.

So, when God gives you the gift to worship Him, don’t think that it’s going to lead you anywhere in life other than closer to Him. And if you can’t appreciate that, you’re like an 8-year-old boy crying on his birthday. You’ve just been given a gift, and you don’t even realize it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adam Lee Rosenfeld is a dad, who grew up in the suburbs, lives in Jerusalem, bangs on guitars, skateboards, writes about life, and has to lead the way from here (just like you). Check out his blog and say hi:
www.adamleerosenfeld.com


Guest Post w/ Jennifer Caracelo - Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time

It has been a while since our last post about Defining WorshipThis series is about all the different ways that we worship God whether it is in prayer, in work, in parenting, or whatever. It's a diverse array of things and everyone has a unique and important perspective on this. To speak on this topic, we have had the honor of getting some guest posts lined up! Today's post was written by Jennifer Caracelo, the Rebbetzin of Keren Ohr Messianic Synagogue in Savannah, Georgia.

We had her and Jude, her husband, on the show a while ago and if you didn't get to hear it, check it out here!  Jennifer is a very dear friend who I look up to so much and her heart for the Lord is so beautiful and real. I know you will enjoy what God has laid on her heart!

- T + B

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I’d like to talk about the concept of “Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time.”  I title it that because it is an ingrained institution in our spiritual lives, as it should be.  But many of us, moms especially, have struggled with the spiritual paradigm of a morning quiet time.  Our conventional religious wisdom tells us that we should be spending time with God every morning – first thing to get the day started right.  In theory, I totally agree with this! 

I’m not a morning person.  My kids are up before me every morning.  When my feet hit the ground at 7am, I’m immediately in ‘mom mode’ making lunches and brushing hair and herding young children to the bus stop.  Then it’s home to work with older kids on their school and tackle the to-do list of synagogue and work items.  I do Bible reading when I can and talk to God here and there throughout the day.  I may not spend hours in reading and prayerful meditation, but I have a strong relationship with God and I hear from Him on a regular basis. I’m sure many other women out there are in the same boat.  How many of you struggle with feelings of guilt because your relationship with God doesn’t include the “mandatory” early morning Bible reading and prayer time?  You’re not doing it the way you’ve been told you’re supposed to. There is a subtle message in the body of Messiah that if you don’t have that first thing in the morning time then your time with God is inadequate –lacking – less than.

An amazing miracle happened today; I woke up two minutes before my 6:30 alarm!  (I need 30 minutes to come out of my deep sleep to the land of the living.)  I had a 30 second argument with myself and decided to choose some Bible reading over the warmth of the bed.  The dog had hopped up on the bed to curl up against me for warmth, and I shoved her over to let my feet hit the floor.  The only light was what trickled up stairs from the kitchen as I made my way over to the bookshelf for my Bible.  Suddenly I felt warm wetness through my sock.  I quickly flipped on my cell phone flashlight and shined it on the carpet to reveal two spots of dog vomit and a hairball that she must’ve coughed up in the middle of the night.  Great! I trudged downstairs to grab paper towels, a bag, and cleaner to take care of the mess.  Fifteen minutes later, not bothering to put away the stuff – I’d do it after I got at least fifteen minutes for Bible reading – I continued my journey to the bookshelf.  Guided by the trusty cell light, I was not a foot from my destination when I stepped in another wet spot.  The bright glare of the flashlight shone on a puddle of dog pee on the rug.  By the time I had taken care of that mess I was summoned to put my daughter’s “only pair of jeans” in the dryer so she could wear them today.  I looked at the clock on my cell – 7:00am. My time had disappeared.

But as I went through the morning routine of peanut butter sandwiches and hair bows, a song wound its way through my mind – words directly from God to me. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord! Great is thy faithfulness!”  

When I finally got a chance to sit down this morning I did a search on my Bible app, knowing those words were not just a song, but scripture.  Sure enough I was directed to Lamentations 3:22-23.  The song is pretty much word for word from the ESV translation. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Despite my best intentions and plans to spend 30 minutes in prayer and Bible reading this morning, life got in the way – and that’s okay.  God says it’s okay! His love for me is new every morning.  His grace and mercy and compassion for me are limitless and greater than I can imagine.  He knows that the start to each day is not spent in a blissful, spiritual encounter with Him.  He knew what I would literally step in this morning.  He knew that clean up job would thwart my plans for Bible reading.  He allowed that to show me that He doesn’t need to meet me at 6:30am.  He understands that I have sandwiches to make and pony tails to do.  That’s the job that He has given me right now.  And He knows that I don’t neglect my relationship with Him.

In Judaism, women are not obligated to follow the positive time-bound mitzvot (commandments) such as praying at certain times during the day.  God specifically exempts them to allow them to be totally devoted to their family’s care.  For those women who are single or have kids that are grown, they have the privilege of taking that extra time to spend with God.  But for those of us whose time is not our own, remember this: God does not hold you to an impossible standard.   God desires time with you, but He makes no demands on when and how.  If you ask Him, He will show you ways that you may already be spending that precious time with Him.  Throw off the guilt and condemnation that crushes your spirit and be mindful of His still small voice throughout the day.  Listen for the melody of a praise song He brings to mind, or the words of scripture that He speaks to you as you drive in the car or do the dishes. Treasure all those moments that you talk to him throughout the day, for that is truly “pray(ing) without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:10)