Worship

What do you think of when you hear the word “worship”? For a lot of us I would bet we think of singing in church; we think of giving ten to twenty minutes once or twice a week singing words that may or may not mean something to us. Or perhaps we think of our tithes and offerings as worship. Both of these things are worship, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.

So then if we’re missing the point, let’s ask some questions.

  1. What is worship? 
    • Worship is the expression of adoration or reverence.
    • Worship is something that God alone deserves (Exodus 20:2-6).
    • John 4:23-24 says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”(emphasis mine)
    • 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”
    • Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (emphasis mine)
    • Isaiah 29:13 says that if we are only honoring God with our lips but not our hearts, we are not truly worshiping.

    Essentially, worship is not something that we do once a week, it is something we are to do through our lifestyle. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth, two   things that are forever inside us when we allow Jesus to take His rightful place as   king of our lives. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is not something you do once, it’s continual dedication of ourselves to the Lord.

  2. Why do we worship?
    • If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone you really like you know what it’s like to desire to get to know someone. You want to know everything about them – what they like, what they dislike, what makes them tick, their middle name, everything! – and the more you know the more you want to know. Our relationship with God is similar: when we spend time with Him and get to know Him, it stirs up the desire to get to know Him more, and when we get to know Him, we can’t help but worship Him.

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Worship is so much more than singing songs and giving money, it’s continually honoring God with our lives.

When we obey His command to love our neighbor, that’s worship.

When we choose to be like Jesus and pray for those who persecute us, that’s worship.

When we take the high road instead of stooping to the level of those who hurt us, that’s worship.

When we extend grace, that’s worship.

When we choose not to compromise our values, that’s worship.

When we stand and sing and pour out our hearts to the Creator, that’s worship.

When we use our gifts to further His kingdom, that’s worship.

When we die to ourselves and live solely for Him, that’s worship.

Our lives are meant to be continual acts of adoration and reverence of our Creator and King. Worship is not something you get away from life to do, worship is something you do amidst the messiness of life. Everyday is a blank slate. Everyday is a chance to choose God or self. What are we going to choose today?

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAnubhav Saxena

 

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Satisfied in You

I mentioned last week about my struggles last year that resulted in me taking antidepressants. Though they improved my symptoms, I still struggled greatly for awhile. I would lie in bed at night plagued by negative thoughts. I felt angry and bitter and guilt and upset over feeling angry and bitter. It was a vicious cycle. One night sometime after I went to the doctor, I was lying in bed unable to sleep. I turned on Spotify and listened to the discover weekly playlist that had been compiled for me based on songs I had listened to. I was lying there not paying much attention to the music until one song came on.  Satisfied in You (Psalm 42) by The Sing Team struck me in ways I had never expected; I had never heard the song before. The lyrics shook me to the core:

I have lost my appetite
And a flood is welling up behind my eyes
So I eat the tears I cry
And if that were not enough
They know just the words to cut and tear and prod
When they ask me “Whereʼs your God?”

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
I can remember when You showed Your face to me

As a deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for You
And when I survey Your splendor, You so faithfully renew
Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh

When Iʼm looking at the ground
Itʼs an inbred feedback loop that drags me down
So itʼs time to lift my brow
And remember better days
When I loved to worship You and learn Your ways
Singing sweetest songs of praise

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about Your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal Your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is You

So when Iʼm drowning out at sea
And all Your breakers and Your waves crash down on me
Iʼll recall your safety scheme
Youʼre the one who made the waves
And Your Son went out to suffer in my place
And to show me that Iʼm safe

Why am I down?
Why so disturbed?
I am satisfied in You

From the first line, I was hooked. I listened to the cries of a broken soul. I listened to the hope that the broken soul found. I listened as I sighed and traded sorrow for peace.

•••

I still struggled. I still had bad nights. But I would listen to that song. I would read Psalm 42. It became my lifeline. I would ask myself the same question that psalmist did: “Why are you downcast, oh my soul?” God had been so faithful to me. These trials weren’t going to last forever. I stopped trying so hard. I stopped torturing myself with feelings of guilt. I simply gave in to the peace the Father was offering. I became satisfied in Him. Again and again.

•••

To this day that song makes me think about the first time I heard it, the night that it was a life raft for me. Ironically, with this post already being planned for this week, a few weeks ago our pastor spoke on Psalm 42. I again sat and reflected on God’s faithfulness. How I came out of that trial with more empathy and more hope than ever before.

When feelings from before try to creep their way back into my life, I remember the night that I said “no” to my downcast, disturbed soul, the night that I “lifted my brows and remembered better days,” the night that I allowed myself to become satisfied in Him and filled with His peace.

•••

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Photo Credit: Gary Bendig

More than a Physical Act: A Story of Grace

Luke Holter in his book Filthy Fisherman says, “Nearly every Christian I know has an amazing story of God’s grace and redemption. None of us are above His grace; we all badly need it. Once we have been redeemed, our job is to tell that story of redemption” (Emphasis added). And here, in the final post of the marriage series, I’m going to tell you some of my story.

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I often think of how my husband and I are going to approach the topic of sex with our children someday, because our story is a story of grace and healing. My relationship history includes manipulation and abuse (you can read more about that in Toxic) as well as me going along and making my own mistakes. Sex and it’s counterparts were just things on a “Don’t” list for me. I didn’t understand what the harm really was. I mean, I knew God created sex to be in the context of marriage, but I didn’t understand why.

Needless to say, I had trouble with staying away from things on that list. I didn’t understand the emotional bondage that came along with physical acts. Though I didn’t have sex until my wedding night, I had given a lot of myself away prior to meeting my husband, and the breakup that followed devastated me.

•••

My heart breaks when I see others go through things like this. It breaks my heart when people believe society’s lies that sex is casual. It breaks my heart when people weaponize sex. It breaks my heart to see the aftermath of breakups when too much was given. What breaks my heart more is when I see people looking down their noses, thinking that others are undeserving of grace – as if that’s our call to make. Christ came to redeem all of us, not just those whose sins we deem are worthy of being saved from. It reminds me of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus didn’t tell her that her actions were okay, but He didn’t condemn her either. This is the kind of scandalous love and grace we are called to give if we call ourselves followers of Christ. We are called to love people with the truth, but we are not called to condemn them. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when I heard people shaming those caught up in sexual sin while I sat there with my dirty little secret holding back tears and shame.

•••

When my husband and I have kids, I want to be honest with them – about the truth of what sex is and also about my mistakes. I want them to know that sexuality is not a bad thing. I want them to know that God designed marriage and He designed sex as a part of that. It is the ultimate display of intimacy and vulnerability – it is becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is so much more than a physical act. 

I want our kids to grow up knowing that they can ask questions and that they can talk to us freely. I also want my kids to know that we love them unconditionally. I pray that our children will hold tight to the truth and that they will protect their hearts. I pray they will not go through the heartbreak that so many others and myself have gone through. But if my child comes home one day, crying because she made a mistake, you can bet I will be right there crying with her, not because her actions are excused, but because I have been there and because God didn’t turn me away. How could I look at her with shame and condemnation? How could I spit in the name of grace?

•••

While others looked at me with shame and condemnation, God looked at me with love and grace. I know that He grieved over my choices and He rejoiced when I repented. And I know that I am thankful for the grace that was lavished on me while I was undeserving. I know that while the decisions I may have made were not wise, I experienced God’s grace and love all the more, and I can’t help but extend it to others.

•••

To those of you misguided by society’s portrayal of what sex should be, it’s not true. It is so much more than the cheap version being sold.

To those of you who have a warped view of sex because of what others have done to you, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t all there is. There is hope and there is healing.

To those of you who are critical of those caught up in sexual sin, remember grace. Don’t let your hearts be hardened.

To those of you caught up in mistakes you have made, I’m crying with you. It’s not over. Grace is so much bigger than any mistake you will ever make.

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Photo Credit: Bekah Russom