Worship– What Exactly Is It?

We’ve all been there:

Cue music:

Oh, I love this song! I wonder if my hair looks ok? Did I brush my teeth? Oooh, my voice sounds so good today, I’ll sing louder!

How much thought do we give to God, really? Everytime? Do we pay attention to the words we sing?

Are we really worshiping God through music and singing?

As a worshiper, these are things that have been stirring up contemplation in my own heart lately.

The Bible tells us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. It tells us to exhort one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and sing to God with gratitude.

I looked at 71 Bible verses about worship, and out of all of those verses about 10 mention singing.

Not one mentions music.

Am I saying worshiping God with music is bad? Absolutely not– I believe it is genius!

But, what I am saying is– worship and praise are not music. They can be done with music, with singing, but music is not the definition.

I wonder how God sees what we do in our churches we call His house? Does it really honor Him? Does He approve? Does He even like it?

Or, does He see that really, we are doing it for ourselves, at least, sometimes, and only think it satisfies God?

Or, maybe we are missing that whole worhip Him in spirit and in truth, completely.

How do we worship God in spirit and in truth? What would that look like to God? Do we even try to worship Him outside of the music sets and practice times?

What does worship mean?

What does praise mean?

I do believe we all come to a point in our walk with Jesus where these questions burn into our spirit. We think we know, but–

Do we really?

May God grant us understanding, a willingness to learn, along with eyes and ears to hear and see what we might not already, clearly.

Don’t stop the music and singing. Let’s just do a heart and understanding check to see if we are missing something.

Makings of a Hero


All of us have at least one person we’ve looked up to at some point in our lives. I imagine what defines a person as a hero for people is as unique as we each are as individuals. 

I find myself drawn to both the character and intentions of those I admire and think of as role models.

Amy Carmichael is one of my most favorite historical figures, but she’s not well known by many. She bravely fought against both the stereotype of women in her day, as well as health issues. She discovered within her the deepest love for children and she gave of herself continuously, against the advice and concern for others– for the Glory of God. Her testimony is an incredible example  of faith and trust continuously met and blessed by God and His graceful provision.

Mother Teresa is also one I look at as maybe the most genuine and self-less person in the history of our world. She set out in obedience to God to treat every person, whether they agreed and reciprocated or not, with the love and kindness God continually poured into her heart. She held strong to her convictions and the path before her even when she didn’t feel God with her. 

Rosa Parks is also a dear favored role model I’ve chosen. She didn’t set out to be defiant or troublesome to her haters. She was true to herself, and she held her ground even when it got dangerous for her, because she had a need. Had she not gotten on that bus and sat down out of weariness, I wonder if she would have survived that day? Maybe we wouldn’t know her name or be influenced by her beautiful character. The world would have unknowingly suffered a tremendous loss. History would have been shaped a bit differently. 

Martin Luther King Jr. What can I say about him that has not already been said? He demonstrated Jesus as he was surrounded by nothing but hatred and animosity for one of the dumbest reasons in our world’s history– skin color. I have no doubt God rose him up. We are hard-pressed to find anyone today with the immense, pure character of a child of the Living God.

Having said that, I do recognize one who now has the mantle of Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. His niece, Dr. Alveda King. She has the same mindset of saving as many from hatred and death as possible– with a desire to protect the unborn, dispensing the truth and fighting against the stronghold abortion has taken over our nation– her specific focus girls, women and babies withing the African-American communities. Her heart, efforts, and tenacious focus have marked her as one of the few true heroes of our country, especially within our culture today. May God continue to bless and protect her destiny and ministry in full abundance of His grace, mercy and provision. Such a tremendous woman, and it saddens me that so few actually recognize her or her true character. 

These are my heroes. There are a few others, but these have influenced my life the most.

Lady Delivers Lunches To Needy Kids

Selfless beauty.

The Feels

With schools closed until classes resume in her rural Washington State community, Phyllis Shaughnessy knows that kids who receive free or subsidized cafeteria meals during the academic year may go without during the long summer months.

So, stocked with more than 200 sack lunches a day and a core of volunteers to help pack them, Monday through Friday, the great-grandma stepped up this summer to help deliver 6,851 meals – and counting – direct to their doors.

“It’s easy to see,” Shaughnessy, 73, tells PEOPLE of the difference her effort makes, “when you drive up and you see kids jumping up and down, ‘Yay, the lunch lady is here!’ They get their bags and they just dash to the nearest place they can open them up and start in. They’re happy.”

So is Shaughnessy, who organized the donor-driven program for the North Beach School District in northwestern Washington, and partnered…

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What Makes You Feel Loved?

God won’t make anyone feel loved by Him that doesn’t want to.

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There are so many thoughts and ideas bouncing in my head right now, like molecules of water being heated. I have a renewed excitement about this topic because of  nightmare I recently had.

I could easily say much of my past was like a nightmare. Not all of it, I have happy, content feelings and memories, too. But, feeling loved wasn’t descriptive of me for many years during my upbringing, or as a result of my first marriage ending with my being rejected. That was the subject of my recent nightmare. I was trapped in a triggered memory of the sudden cold-heartedness and rejection from my ex-husband, within a deep sleep.

The amazing thing for me is, I had forgotten that feeling completely!

The dream was a near paralyzing experience for me, until my youngest woke me up. Reality soothed my heart, calmed the terror that had re-awoken in my mind.

Feeling unloved is the ultimate torture and torment. It’s cold fingers grasp at our heart and attempt to choke the life out of us.

Feeling loved is like the sun’s light warming your back when the surrounding air is harshly cold.

I have experienced that warming light, when the man I’m married to now proposed to me then traveled thousands of miles to join me in marriage, and his continued acceptance of all I encompass. Faults, mistakes, different views and experiences, he has forgiven me time and again and looked past things my ex-husband and so many other people have judged me harshly over.

Because of where I have been, I am able to appreciate where I am and this gift of precious love I have been given. I get to give it in return, too. That excites me!!

I experienced love’s warming of my spirit as I rejected my old ways and began following the path Jesus trail-blazed for us all. The way to experience His love for us all, is through the acceptance of Jesus and all He encompasses. There is no other way. Once experienced, every myth of God not existing fades into dust. Nothing can compare to that completeness that fills the void deep in our hearts.

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Just as a womb is within a woman that can only feel completed by a baby safely growing within it, there is a place, a void, within our heart that can only grow and be filled by God. To reject God is to seal that void, embracing the cold where His love does not extend.

God won’t make anyone feel loved by Him that doesn’t want to.

This husband didn’t appear to be what I thought I needed, when I met him. It turns out, my initial assessment was wrong. Had I stubbornly followed that instead of giving him a fair chance to show me who he really is, I would have missed out of sharing life with the one who makes me feel loved.

I knew life without God’s love, as well. Had I stuck with my old ways, I would have missed out on finding out the deep reality of the difference His Love makes. I had no idea how cold and empty I was, until I accepted Jesus. It is exactly like night and day.

I feel loved by being accepted. I feel love by being heard. I feel loved by being cared for. I feel love by being forgiven. I feel love by being included. It’s by these that I am confident I am loved. I feel all of these in my relationship with my husband. I feel all of these in my relationship with God.

What are yours? What makes you feel loved?

Mighty Ministry– At What Cost?

Congregation

 

 

As Christians we each have different gifts and callings from God, some hope to have an impactful ministry that helps or reaches out to others. In Christian circles I’ve overheard someone being given the promise of a “Mighty Ministry”. I have been told that, myself.

What does that even mean?

I just saw an article about a worship leader and his wife who lost both of their children in a car accident that defied odds. As I was praying for them, those words came to my consciousness: Mighty Ministry. I looked at them, analyzed them against the situation, and then I put them on the back burner.

Certainly God takes what we go through and turns it around. I have no doubt God can use this to mold and shape a ministry that will touch the hearts of so many lives…

But, before that, what about the couple who lost their children? What about their injured hearts as their children’s lives– the hopes and dreams they had for their children– were ripped away from them on earth?

I’m hoping and praying a loving, warm, compassionate community reaches out to this couple, demonstrating God’s heart to them. God knows how it feels to lose His beloved child. He gave His Son to us all, to die for us. Do we think about how that must have hurt God to go through. If anyone understands, it is God.

I’ve been surprised by the number of times someone has endured a terrible hardship that the Christian community’s response is a pat on the back, a hug, a few delivered meals… then the expectation that God will do the rest. It’s between them and God. They have God, so they don’t need anything else.

God made people to need people. He made us to be vessels for His compassion, strength, love, and wisdom. His Holy Spirit guides us and helps us to be useful for His purposes.

Sometimes His purposes are to show all of His characteristics to the hurting, the lost, the laborers for His Kingdom on earth, the meek, and the humble. Even those who are in the beginning stages of a Mighty Ministry.

We should put off jealousy, judgment, criticism, and excuses so we can put on The Lord Jesus Christ.

That in itself is the unrecognized Mighty Ministry God has for every one of us.

 

 

 

 

 

How Can We Identify With Jesus?

A woman sat at His feet and poured her very best, most expensive bottle of perfumed oil over them. She had just finished washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair.

Another woman had been talking with Jesus at the one well everyone in that area had to use, then ran through her town, shouting with happy excitement. He was a stranger to her, and political correctness would have Him not even acknowledge her. He knew things no one could, and told her He knew she was living with a man she was not married to as well as how many times she had been married before. Even with that knowledge, He still talked to her, told her how to get Living water.

A man, cursed with life long blindness, looked around with a new perfect, clear view. Jesus had just picked up some dirt, spit in it, and rubbed it over the man’s eyes.

Jesus grew weak after walking through a crowd of people. Why? Because of one woman, compelled by desperate belief in the miraculous healing that coursed through Him propelling her to humbly, quietly just touch the hem of His robe. She didn’t want to disturb Him, but knew in her heart of hearts He could fix what money and doctors could not.

Most often we look into the recorded happenings of Jesus with the expectation that we can identify with the ones who interacted with Jesus. We expect that Jesus will identify with us, after all He left perfection to be born as we are, and live as we do.

How can we identify with Him? How many times have we experienced anything like He did?

We expect we should be the focus of His attention, that He can understand us and make excuses for where we lack. We expect that He will reach out to us with love, kindness, healing, forgiveness and understanding.

Jesus told His friends, the ones who followed Him and half-heartedly listened to His wisdom and truth, that one who broke bread with Him would betray Him. We always look at Judas as the betrayer. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins. But, what about Peter? Peter also betrayed Jesus, and throughout recorded accounts, Jesus felt a closeness with Peter that He did not feel with many. Yes, Judas betrayed His life, but Peter betrayed His heart, His loyalty, His trust. Can we identify with Jesus? Or do we most often put ourselves in the shoes of Peter, with all our explanations and excuses for His behavior? He was afraid for his life, after all.

And Jesus was dying on the cross in Peter’s place as Peter denied knowing Him 3 times.

Jesus made it clear that if we deny Him before men, Jesus will deny us before His Father.

I think it’s pretty clear: that is a touchy area with Jesus. He has made His terms crystal clear: if we sincerely value Eternity with Him, we need to cling to Him, no matter what. Eternity with Jesus is the reality that needs to remain the focus and purpose of our earthly lives.

As the saying goes: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” _ C.T. Studd

It seems apparent to me, a big chunk is missing from American Christianity– identifying with Jesus. Our culture is so far removed from everything His life on earth was immersed in. His Heavenly mindset. We worry about the things He told us not to worry about. We place vanity above sacrifice. We love ourselves far more than any of our neighbors. We let money be our “master”. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought, about our “rights”, our “privileges”, what we “deserve”.

If we ever identify accurately with Jesus, we will come to that sobering realization– what we have deserved was exactly what He took in our place.

Death on the cross.

Because of Him, we no longer deserve that, because He broke the curse of death that was on all mankind until God rose Him up from the grave on that third day.

We have rights because Jesus made the way for us to. We have rights because God created us to have them. We are given privileges through what Jesus has done on our behalf. Because He is mediating on our behalf even now as He sits at the right hand of God the Father, we now have God’s favor on us. It’s never been in and of ourselves we’re granted the abilities to become privileged, or have them bestowed upon us.

It should be a constant sobering thought as we ceaselessly pray, that as we enjoy our lives, many in other countries are being called upon to be martyred.

Not because God demands that of us, but because of that friendship with Jesus. Because of that loyalty to Him.

Because He first loved us.

Because He willingly took the punishment death had planned for us.

How can we possibly say we can identify with Him in that? No one has ever done such a selfless thing. No one has ever loved those who hated Him while He was taking our punishment from death, a punishment He never should have been given. He never once stepped into the realm of sin. He stayed outside of it, demonstrating for us how walking with God helps us also to step outside of, to stay outside of, the realm of sin and of death.

Jesus took the sting out of death that robbed mankind of eternity with God. He took it, and He now has control of that. He has set the standards. He told us that when we go to God through Jesus, we can live in Eternity. When we allow Jesus to rule and reign over our lives.

He is no dictator.

He is kind. He is generous. He is beautiful. He is loving. He shows mercy and forgiveness, consistently.

I would much rather trust Jesus with the keys to death and Hell, than the devil. Satan has our best destruction on his mind, consistently, constantly.

Jesus has our best interest at heart.

Exposed

Jemtree's Heart

I hate my past.

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I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.

Yeah, I hate my past.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and

exposed

I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.

Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what…

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Eye to Eye

My husband’s blog post. I love this one. ❤

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I’m sure if you’ve seen Disney’s Frozen, you’ll remember this exchange:

Anna: We complete each others’–
Hans: Sandwiches!
Anna: I was just gonna say that!

What? Really?

Being away from home on business can be stressful, especially leaving behind Wifey with our four always-wonderful, never-exasperating, easily-managed children. (Two of whom are teenagers. God help us.)

When we were dating, Wifey and I would go for long walks and talk about everything and anything. (Aww!) Sometimes when we’d struggle for a way to express a thought, the other would spout out the word or phrase.

And Wifey would joke that we were “eye to eye.”

Wifey plays the violin, and I play piano. We’ve learned over the years of playing together to sense where the other is going. Ok, I’ll be honest, I think I just play whatever I want. But she knows how to complement it perfectly, how to tell…

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Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

They have searched for me, my kids,

they know me well.

They know when I sit down, and when I get up to clean;

They perceive my need for time alone from afar.

They discern my going shopping and my lying down for a catnap;

They are familiar with all my habits.

Before a word is on my tongue,

they interrupt and make me forget what I was going to say.

They pull at my hem from in front and behind me,

Their hands are always on me.

Such attention is overwhelming for me,

Too much for me to process all at once.

 

Where can I go from my children?

Where can I go to flee from the kids?

If I go in the bathroom, they are there,

In the middle of the night when everyone should be sleeping, they are there.

If I get up early, they are there,

Try to sneakily eat chocolate behind closed doors, there!

Even there, they beg!

Their hands trying to take it from me, making me feel guilty.

If I say, “Surely I can have privacy in the darkness

and the quiet becomes peace around me,”

the night will be full of interruptions;

because the darkness means it’s time to play.

 

They were created in my inmost being;

I am the mother in whose womb they were knit.

I praise God because they were fearfully and wonderfully made,

His works are wonderful!

My frame was not hidden from their kicks

when they were made in the secret place,

when they were woven in the depths of my girth.

Their eyes saw as their hands punched me;

all their days were written in their baby book

hopes and promises before they came to be.

How precious are their words, and their silence!

How vast is the sum of their joyful noise!

Were I to count them, it would require I could concentrate…

I’m sure their questions have outnumbered the grains of sand–

when I’m awake, they are always with me.

 

In game and play, they slay the zombies.

They pretend to kill the monsters and vampires.

While at church they sing Jesus Loves Me;

they are learning of His precious Name.

Do I not get angry with those who are mean to them,

and abhor those who bully or reject them?

I have nothing but disdain for adults who dismiss them;

I count them as missing out on great opportunities.

My kids have searched through my stuff, and they know what I love;

they test me and cause anxious thoughts.

They push buttons of offensiveness,

but I love them, that’s my way, and it’s everlasting.

 

 

 

 

Just Tweak it!

If writing is anything like the process God goes through in transforming us, He has His work cut out for Him.

Just change this here to fit there… Ok, now shave off a bit over here.

Wait. Wait! That’s all wrong, need to put this up here as the priority, and switch these two things around over here…

Space. Need a lot of space over here.

The heart, where’s the heart! Oh, Ok, whew! Got it.

Now, some emphasis…. here!

Whoa! Can’t have that in there!

Erase!

Ok, now a little shaping here, make this thought tighter… Good!

Ok. I think we are about…

Oh, where did that twist come from! Straighten it…just…like…so…

Nevermind, just pull that all the way out.

Ok. It’s done.

It’s done!

For now.

I’ll pick up again tomorrow.

Time to get some rest.