Is God Egotistical?

Is God egotistical?

This question sounds sacrilegious, doesn’t it?

Yet, I’ve heard some who don’t believe in God use that as an excuse for not believing. Who would worship an egotistical God who demands praise? Why would anyone worship such a God? They even quote Bible verses to prove this supposed flaw in His character (though I find it ironic that they quote the Bible to prove the unworthiness of a God who they say does not exist!). Still, consider verses such as:

  • “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 34:14 ESV).
  • “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…” (Isaiah 42:8 ESV).
  • “You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…” (Exodus 34:14 ESV).
  • “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8 ESV).

If it were you or me requiring the praise and worship of others, it would indeed be a self-centered and egotistical request.

So why isn’t it egotistical for God to expect our praise and worship?

The answer is found in one word. Worthy.

God is worthy of our worship and praise.

But that’s only the first half of the answer. The second half?

No one else is worthy.

No one else. No one. Only God. Because of who He is:

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

The Creator of all that is seen and unseen.

Redeemer of what once was lost.

The One who keeps, encourages, and equips His people.

Not only is worshiping God reasonable, it is necessary.

We have been created to worship. If God is not the object of our worship, we’ll end up worshiping something or someone else. Because that’s what we do. We are drawn to worship. If not God, then athletes, musicians, actors. Even ourselves.

We must worship. And because He created us, God knows that for us to worship anything or anyone less other than God Himself will be our destruction.

So is God egotistical? Not in the least.

God is worthy – worthy of all worship and praise. He’s the only one who is.

Are you worshipping the only worthy One?

Christmas Peeves in the News

Christmas is my favorite season, but as I read the news this past week, there were several accounts that did their best to contribute a proverbial “fly in the ointment” this season. Here are a few of my Christmas peeves in the news:

Christmas News
1. In Tallahassee’s capitol, a holiday decoration was erected to commemorate the season. No, it wasn’t a manger or a Christmas tree. It wasn’t even a spaghetti monster or a satanic display, both of which have previously appeared in the state capitol.

Last year, the capitol was decorated (and I use the term loosely) by:

– the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who displayed a pile of “holy noodles”
– the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who hung a winter solstice banner
– another atheist group, who erected a Festivus pole constructed of beer cans
– the Satanic Temple, who created a display of an angel falling from the sky into flames
– the Florida Prayer Network, who displayed a nativity scene.

This year, there was a single display: a lone Festivus pole. But not just any Festivus pole. A Rainbow Gay Edition of the Festivus pole. Sigh. Yes. A pole championing gay rights representing a fictitious religion invented for laughs on the television comedy Seinfeld.

In the name of peace, the Christian group chose not to display a nativity because of the conflict it generated as other groups demanded space for competing displays. A representative of the Satanic Temple explained, “Without a nativity display we haven’t been properly motivated to apply for a display of our own.”

When I first read this, it made me angry. But I’ve shifted from anger to grief. It’s no longer enough to mock Christianity by denying it. Now what everyone acknowledges to be pure fiction is held up as an equal to Christianity. Can our culture sink any further?

2. In a Time magazine article, “What We Know About When Jesus Was Actually Born,” the author wrote, “The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke are the only accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament. Even accepting their word as the truth, each tells a different story—Luke’s starting in Nazareth and Matthew’s focused solely on events in Bethlehem…”

His implication seems to be that because Matthew and Luke’s accounts are not identical, they are in conflict. Why would the fact that Luke provided additional background which Matthew chose not to include imply a conflict of facts? Even in a contemporary court of law, multiple witnesses are called to provide a complete account by combining various perspectives. Why is Christianity denied the same courtesy?

3. In covering the Christmas eve service of a local megachurch, the Palm Beach Post (December 24th) printed a photo with the following caption (names deleted):

“[Name] performs during a light show at [church]….The performance was part of the family evening Christmas production at the [church].”

Can you guess which words raised my ire? How about performs, show, performance, and production. I understand those who do not share Christian beliefs may not appreciate the difference between worship and performance. But I wonder…how much do we Christians contribute to that error? Are we  so focused on performances and productions that we blur the distinction?

I wonder what might happen if churches and Christians – all of us – focused less on the production aspects of our worship services and more on an overriding sense of worship? What would happen if we were less concerned with refilling coffee cups during worship and more devoted to offering ourselves and our worship to the only One worthy to receive it? What might happen if we all made it more difficult for unbelievers to confuse performance and worship? It might not change anything. Then again, it just might change everything.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Can You Get More of God?

Do you want more of God than you have?

It’s not possible.

Same with Jesus. You can’t get more of Jesus. Or the Holy Spirit. Can’t get more of Him, either.

I’m guessing I have your attention.

How many times have we participated in a worship service, singing or crying out, “Lord, I want more of You. I want more of Your Holy Spirit.”MoreGod has already given us His Son—all of His Son. And He gave us His indwelling Spirit—all of His Spirit—at the moment of our redemption. He has held nothing back. As A.W. Tozer once said, “The Spirit-filled life is not a special deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.”

What is biblical is giving God more of us.

Problem is, this takes work. It’s a lot easier to put the onus on God. To tell God that it’s His responsibility to give us more of Himself than He already has. In effect, we’re implying that if we’re missing something, it must be His fault for not giving us everything we need.

Don’t get me wrong. Redemption is, indeed, all God’s doing. We don’t—we can’t—contribute to our salvation. God did do it all.

So what’s going on when you and I feel as if something is missing…that something more is needed? The missing part is us. All too often, we’re the ones holding back part of ourselves from God. An area of life we’re not willing to change. An attitude we’re not willing to release. A behavior we’re not willing to surrender.

Total surrender is not easy. The word is not attractive in our culture. We rarely use it to refer to our relationship with the Lord, yet surrender is the very heart of that relationship. Our surrender.

Still, as a teacher, I can give more of Jesus. When I teach, I can ensure my content focuses less on communicating information and more on Who that information reveals: the majestic, glorious, holy, risen, worthy, Lord. My goal is to give more of Jesus. In that sense, my listeners do get more of Jesus.

But when I think about my times of worship, my heart aches at the thought that—at the very moment I might be crying out, “Lord I want more of You; more of Your Spirit”—my heavenly Father might be saying the same to me. “Ava, I want more of you—all of you, no holding back. Only in total surrender will you experience everything I want to reveal to you about who I am.”

That’s my heart’s cry. “Lord, I give you more of me, no, I give you all of me…no holding back.”

Will you join me?

You Don’t Miss What You Never Had

You don’t miss what you never had.

The thought came, unbidden, as a dozen of us sat around the piano late last Saturday. It was the final evening of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and most of the conferees and faculty had left. United in sweet fellowship, this intimate gathering shared a love of music rarely sung anymore.

The pianist ran her fingers over the keys, rocking in time to the music with a broad smile lighting her face. Most sang with eyes closed. Facial expressions reflected awakened memories of past worship – seasons of intimate time with the One who redeemed us for Himself.

We were a small group, but the room rang with the music and words of hymns such as “In the Garden,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know,” and many others.

We drew from deep wells. Printed lyrics would have imposed an unwelcome distraction. These hymns weren’t just songs. They were – and are – woven into our spirits and memories.

It’s not that I don’t like contemporary choruses – I do. They often bubble up from my heart in joyful praise. But rather than augmenting the great hymns, these choruses are rapidly replacing them. My heart aches for the generations who follow us. Christians who will never experience the depth of words connecting us to generations of believers who came before us. Younger Christians who will lose the depictions bequeathed to us—descriptions of the rich heritage of our faith.MusicEvery generation celebrates with their own musical expressions, and rightly so. After all, we don’t sing the same tunes sung by Christians in the catacombs of ancient Rome. Coming generations are certainly entitled to the same freedom of expression.

Still, I grieve that those who come after us will be even more disconnected from our powerful heritage. Worse, they won’t miss what they never had…and that may be the most tragic loss of all.