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May 10, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 25

The Challenge

Scripture to meditate on: “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

I (Josh) remember how, when I got into college, I became more and more frustrated with the worship music in church. (Not with the people leading worship but with the type of songs.) I began to complain to my roommates and friends about what I perceived as an oversimplification of our human struggle and God’s answer to that struggle. I was feeling a divine disturbance that there should be new worship music from my generation that expressed a raw and real relationship with God.

After a while, however, I let my divine disturbance turn into bitterness that became a barrier between me and the Lord. Whenever I heard the songs in church, I would start to think about all the things I didn’t like about them instead of thinking about the incredible God they glorified.

I had many conversations with my dad, voicing my frustration. “All these songs we sing are poorly written and incredibly simple!” I would say. “Doesn’t God deserve the best of what we can create?”

Then one day Dad challenged me in a way I had not expected. “All right, Josh,” he said. “Why don’t you and your band mates lead worship one weekend a month and plan the Sunday night service? You’re always saying that worship needs to be different and that we should try new things and write new songs, so God has obviously put that on your heart. I really believe this could be a great opportunity for the church.”

Quickly I started back-pedaling. “Well, I don’t know if that’s really my calling or what I want to do with my life.”

“That’s fine!” my dad said. “It’s just one weekend a month, and if you decide you don’t want to do it after a weekend or two, you don’t have to.”

I had just been called out, and I was unprepared. It was easy to criticize and point at things I felt needed improvement, but it was something else entirely to take responsibility for addressing them.

I learned an important principle in all of this: when we feel uneasy about the way things are done or not done, we should view them for what they are—unmet needs.

When we feel uneasy about the way things are done or not done, we should view them for what they are—unmet needs.

The world and unfortunately the church too are full of critics and people just waiting to cut others down. This is the opposite of what we are called to do. We are to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Yes, there are times when we are called to accountability, and everything we do must be grounded in God’s Word. But we must learn to recognize inaction.

James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). The most certain way to go back to living a secondhand faith is to refuse to act upon the Holy Spirit’s movement in your heart, a divine disturbance.

When you do not respond to a divine disturbance of the Holy Spirit, you get bitter and you criticize. That helps no one. You are called to serve and to love with your actions (Galatians 5:13). More specifically, you hurt yourself. It becomes easy to think that you know how to do things better than the people God has appointed to be a part of your life. When you don’t respond to a divine disturbance in your life, you become the greatest obstacle between an unbelieving world and a loving God—a judgmental Christian.

We are called to act in love, and the firsthand experience is an exciting, sometimes terrifying, journey that requires us to step out in faith and depend on the Lord and learn from His Word every day. That’s exactly how it worked when I took up my dad’s challenge to lead worship at Woodlands Church.