Worship Wednesday

EVERY WEDNESDAY a new post that will encourage and challenge your thinking on what it means to Worship God.

December 4th, 2019

Hope is the word for the week  And I am a little late to the Advent game with this one.  Hope?  When hope seems like a silly, flighty friend who keeps saying "we need to get coffee sometime" or asks how you are, all the while scrolling through their insta feed. 

Anyone else need some hope?  Or maybe need to believe in hope again?  
I have been reading lots of wise words and quotable hope tweets over the last few days but one stood out~
“Hope isn’t about about thinking something will get better. Hope is about believing Someone better is already here.”  Ann VosKamp  (read her full blogpost)

Which sounds a whole lot like Hope has a trust factor.
And trust is hard yet absolutely needed if you are going to

hope again;  Hope that the circumstances you find yourself in won't swallow you up,  hope that a relationship you long for will come or be restored.  And when you have already had dreams crushed and nothing looks like you imagined it would, it is hard to Hope.
I think about Jesus hanging out with his friends after he was resurrected.  Cooking dinner, and asking them if they loved him...to feed my sheep (John 21) and then in Matthew's gospel, he wrote of some of Jesus' last words....
 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, 
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In a weary world full of people grasping for some sense of hope, here come Christmas and Jesus and Advent telling us to Hope.  To Trust in Hope again.  
Jesus knew we would struggle and get caught in all the trappings of our cultures and circumstances.  Guess that is why he appeared that last time to the disciples, clarifying again, reminding them to love and worship God above all and know that He would ALWAYS be with us.  
Ahhh, Jesus, me too.  I need that reminder of Hope in You again.

November 27th, 2019

What Are You Thankful For?

Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude report experiencing more joy, express more compassion and generosity, and are even less likely to get sick.  
Thanksgiving is essentially an act of worship.  Thanksgiving day we gather, eat turkey, watch football, play games and be together.  While all of those things are fun being with family and celebrating together, something truly special happens when we take our thanksgiving seriously and make it a lifestyle.  Our perspective transforms as our mindset changes.  
But how do you nurture and keep a spirit of thankfulness with all the distractions especially this time of the year?

It begins with a choice.  And then another and each day after that.  Choosing to fix our thought of what God has already done and that He will be faithful through whatever the current circumstances are.
Gratitude is really just a door to seeing life with a totally different perspective.  To live life in God’s Abundance.
That is what we want really.  Life to the fullest-  living in that abundance- whole. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20th- Out of town!
November 13, 2019
As I stood with over 12,000 people in an arena lifting my voice in worship to God the other night, my heart was so encouraged and filled.  Nothing could have stopped my song or changed what I was feeling in those moments.  But Monday comes, life strikes and reality sets in.  My heart is that nothing ever gets in the way of my worship to God. 
Yet there are barriers to my worship.  Some are obvious and others are not.  Could it be that barriers are actually idols in my life and if they are, are they a barrier to worship?  In my own study of the Bible, I have been caught rolling my eyes at the Israelites for bowing down at statues, especially so quickly after God had rescued them.  How could they be so dumb and impatient?  The Holy Spirit has checked me on this one.  Am I any better than they?

Idols are not simply a statue of wood or stone.  They are anything we love and pursue in place of God.  In biblical terms an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on, or are mastered by.   While we may not be chanting to a sun god or bowing to a statue, we are doing the same thing when we are searching for significance or acceptance in anything other than God. 

When you think about barriers that we face today, the usual suspects come to mind like plain ole sin or the love of money and status, but what about some of the more ominous barriers~
A spouse or child, other people's opinions of us, our checklists and strivings, food, the things that happen to us- good or bad because hanging onto wounds or hanging onto nostalgia can be an idol, then there are all the distractions whether it be technology, social media, hobbies, sports, Netflex.
Not that all on this list is inherently bad and several are a real need and should be in our lives.  But because we can take a good thing and make it an ULTIMATE THING, it can become an idol.  An Idol can be an object, a significant other, a property, a hobby, a role, a church, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero…

As we seek to be true worshippers of God and really take steps into real spiritual growth; we must take an honest look at ourselves and identify idols in our lives, recognizing our tendency to lean in an area that could become an idol.  Help us God to be aware of the barriers and idols that keep us from all you have for us.  And thank you for loving us as we grapple with it all.
Ephesians (ch. 3).  
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

--> 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Bring an open honest heart seeking true worship this Sunday! 

November 6, 2019
Oftentimes I have had to recognize my distorted view of what worship is or should be.  I mean, shouldn't I feel something when I lift my voice to sing and maybe even raise my hands in surrender?  He is supposed to be with us, right??  That is the promise....And then certain things should happen. 
The truth is that the promise of God is not that we will feel great or that our heavy load will just go away, but that God will come and be with us THROUGH the circumstances.  And yes, sometimes worshipping does feel great and we feel we can breath again but that isn’t the reason we worship.  We worship is because of WHO HE IS.

If worship relies on our feelings- then that is what it ends up being based on. 

How we feel.  And that is dangerous territory and faulty belief and really just worshipping what we feel or need to feel.

Psalm 96 declares in verses 1-12 that all creation rejoice before the LORD and ends in verse 13 with - "for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness."
In other words, this Psalm teaches us that when we worship our God he will 1st- inspect our hearts (judge);
because no matter how we express worship whether it's standing, lifting up of hands and singing praises, it's all worthless if our hearts are not right with God. When we offer God our true worship, we are inviting him to inspect our hearts for anything that is not like him. The more we allow Him access, we can be transformed into God's likeness because he will reveal the truth about the condition of our hearts as we worship him.
It really is an everyday thing, this worship.  And best of all, God will respond to our worship by making our heart more like his.
My prayer today comes right out of  Psalms 51:10-12"Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.  Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you."
Bring your heart ready to worship Sunday!

October 30, 2019
We worship God because he is God. Period. He created us to worship Him.   And only because God loved us 1st can we even begin to love Him extravagantly and submit extremely.  We are all sinners, yet he still loved us enough to send a savior.  He loved us first!  This is and should be our response back to Him– Worship. 
And will be the only response that we carry with us from here into eternity.
It is highly appropriate to thank God for all the things he has done for us….our Savior 
However, true worship is shallow when it is only about what God has done for us.  Psalm 96:5-6 says, "For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary." In other words, our worship must be toward the one who is worthy simply because of his identity as the Omnipotent (unlimited power), Omniscient (Knows all), and Omnipresent (everywhere simultaneously) One, and not just because God is wealthy and able to meet our needs and answer our prayers. We must focus our practice of worship on the worthiness of God.
When we get that and truly place our priority on God- honoring Him with extravagant love and extreme submission, He has a promise for us- Because of our God's unimaginable generosity toward us, God, in all of his glory, chooses to respond to us through our worship. This is the promise—that when we worship, God will come and commune with us and transform us.
Oftentimes we get a distorted view that when God is with us- certain things should happen.  The truth is that the promise is not that we will feel great or that our heavy load will be lifted, but that God will come…..He is WITH US THROUGH the circumstances.  And sometimes it does feel great OR our burdens are lifted but that isn’t the reason we worship.  IT is WHO HE IS!  If worship relies on our feelings- then that is what it ends up being based on.

If the stars were made to worship so will II can see Your heart in everything You’ve madeEvery burning starA signal fire of graceIf creation sings Your praises so will I"
Looking forward to worshipping Him with you this Sunday!

October 23, 2019 I consider myself a worshipper of God.  A heart chasing him.  My heart has chased many things in this life journey of mine.  Worship isn't always the singular focus and even as one planning worship services I can find myself worshipping the idea of Jesus and even the knowledge rather than Worshipping Him, for who He is.

I feel like a terrible worship leader in those moments I listen to all the voices, opinions and suggestions of what song or word will bring true worship....THEN people will connect, maybe even like me.  It's like I am grasping and hoping somehow I will get it right.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that I never will as long as my confidence lies in myself figuring it out. My confidence must rely totally and completely on my creator God- the one of which I am worshipping.

I looked up Worship in the dictionary and found this offering one day last year-

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster's Dictionary,1828).
I Needed the reminder.  Me, a worship leader.
And so I remind you.

True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed (Expresses what is going on inside of us) through a lifestyle of the pursuit of holiness.  And as we evaluate our lives and lifestyles and find ourselves feeling dry, dull we probably have lost track of our priorities and so it is time for us to question ourselves---
Does my life express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God?
Am I living in extreme or excessive submission to God? 

Where does my confidence come from?

I leave you this Wednesday with one of my go-to verses.  These words from Paul in Romans-

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.


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