Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Found God In Iced Tea...

Second to coffee, I love ice tea. But, I'm very specific on how I like it - regular, UNsweetened iced tea, NO lemon, NO flavorings of any kind. :)

My Mom likes lemon in her unsweetened iced tea. I find this taints the basic flavor of tea - and I love just the flavor of regular tea. I really don't even want a slice of lemon on my glass lest it drips even a few drops of lemony-sourness into my drink.

My mother-in-law likes a bit of sweetener in her tea. Not a lot, just a few pink packets to flavor it up. Ugh - that changes the flavor too-too much for me. Perhaps a few drops of lemon I could stomach, but you add sweetener, and it's just not the same!

Then you have my good friend Stephanie - she's southern - hence she only drinks "Sweet Tea" - to me, a dreadful concoction of sugar and tea brewed together. One mouthful of this and my face puckers up into a foul expression. I can barely swallow it, and it's hard to believe that this, also, is considered "iced tea."

Four different people - four different ways to enjoy our iced tea. And even though it's still "TEA," it's presentation and flavor are completely unique to each of us.

This reminds me of church services. I happen to LOVE our grungy, garage-band kind-of service called "The Well." I love sitting my the speakers with my head and heart just filled up with the guitar and drum and low voice of our main singer. No robes on our pastor. No reciprical prayer. No "Creeds." No hymns. Just a great, honest message from our pastor, and song-after-song in that modern, grunge style.

Our church also offers a more "pop-contemporary" service. That Worship leader is great too - it just reminds me more of the pagentry of American Idol than the backyard, garage band. We have a lot of friends in that service, and I'm happy to pop in there once in a while, but I still prefer The Well.

My friend, Jackie, shies away from The Well and attends the Blended Service. A mixture of some pop-contemporary and some traditional hymns, this is way too "watered down" for me. But even though Jackie and I enjoy different services, we still meet up for the same Sunday School class and have become great friends over the last few years. It hasn't mattered that we don't sit side-by-side or see eye-to-eye on the style of worship we prefer.

Then there's Debbie, my best friend since 9th grade and Michelle, my roller-coaster friend. My garage band service is SO out of league with what they want in a church service! Both much prefer the traditional services - robes on the pastors, hymns from the hymnals, reciting the Lord's Prayer, bring on the organist, and keep those guitars and drums to yourself, thank you very much!! :) After 5 years of rockin' out at our current church, I can't even fathom going back to the traditional United Methodist service that my friends attend. And while Debbie has visited our rock-n-roll church service (and was so gracious about it!), she knows that she prefers quite a different style of worship than I.

Just like it does not matter whether we each prefer our tea "straight up" or "sickenly sweet," God does not care HOW we worship... just that we DO worship. You can use the organ OR the guitar. You can sing with the choir OR with the band. You can pray from a book OR speak the honest words in your heart. Whatever way, God is listening. And regardless of the methods, the purpose is the same: To Worship God. To sing praises to His name. To confess our sins. To thank Him for our blessings. To spread His Word. To share His love.

God designed each of us as unique human beings - complete with our own sets of likes and dislikes, talents, and quirks. So of course, we are going to experience styles of worship that "speak" to us more than others. I went to a traditional United Methodist church for 10 years and didn't feel one kernal of God there... ever. It was a hard and lonely time, faith-wise. And, though I made some wonderful friends there, I did not find God - and I was ever-searching... Yet, it only took TWO visits to our current church before I felt, mind, heart, and soul, that God was speaking to me. And every week for the last 5 years, I have looked forward to church and have left with a direct message in my heart from God.

Just like a person with dyslexia must find another way to read. I needed to find another way to God. And for me, my path includes drums and guitars.

JOHN 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

So what's your style? How do you take your "tea?" And if your current "tea" isn't satisfying you, isn't it time you start shopping for a place where you find your perfect blend? God just wants you to find Him - so what's the best way for you to get there?

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