Guest post by Bob Condly.

Did you know there’s a gender gap between worshippers in Church? Me neither! You’ll read more in this guest post though.We knew Pastor Bob when we lived in another state before coming here. He’s incredibly gifted with words, both his teaching and his writing makes you think and ponder for a long time afterward. When our son was first diagnosed with Autism, we went to him for prayer and counselling, and he really helped us out. I’m extremely privileged to have Pastor Bob guest posting here. Again the whole point of these guest posts on worship is to show you that worship is essential, not to tell you what kind of worship you should do.

 

Bob Condly is the vice president of academics at West Coast

Bob condly
Bob Condly

Bible College and Seminary (www.westcoastbible.org) and blogs at www.discipleshipmatters.org. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+,  and LinkedIn.

 

 

Missing.

When loved ones go missing, we jump into action! Years ago, during a visit to a mall in the Chicago suburbs, one of my boys vanished near an open court. I saw him one moment and the next, he was gone. Frantic, I focused my eyes like a camera lens and darted all over, trying to track him down. After an anxious minute or two, we found him. He’d strolled over to his grandfather. No big deal for my son, but a near heart attack for me!

People matter to us. That’s why we publicize those who’ve disappeared. We put photos on the sides of milk cartons, issue AMBER Alerts, and  broadcast stories on television.

People matter to God. The first question recorded in the Bible was God’s query to Adam, “Where are you?” And Jesus said that a good shepherd would leave an entire flock to chase down one sheep that got away. The Lord cares when folks don’t show up and He wants Christians to pursue them. But first we have to notice their absence.

You know who’s missing from church?

Men.

As David Murrow reveals, the average American congregation is 61% female and 39% male. Between 70-80% of participants in mid-week services are women. And overseas, ladies outnumber guys in church by as much as 9:1.

Murrow traces this phenomenon to the age of industrialization. Around that time, men began to leave their farms to work in factories. Away from home, they relinquished church-related responsibilities to the ladies. As a result, the female perspective came to dominate every aspect of church life, including worship.

British theologian Ian Paul describes one effect as “the move away from familiar, rhythmic, structure songs to more unpredictable, emotive and interiorising songs.” Unfortunately, as Paul Coughlin concludes, “worship music is often too sentimental for guy tastes.”

Yet another factor dissuades men from engaging in worship. Murrow claims that the professionalization of music ministries, coupled with the introduction of too many new and unfamiliar songs, reinforces passivity. Churchgoers become spectators, and this is problematic for men in particular since most males gravitate toward activity and accomplishment. They need to take part but feeling uninterested or inadequate, they pass.

He recounts that “as I visit churches around the country, I’ve frequently observed that the majority of attendees do not sing. They stand motionless, looking at the words on the jumbo screen . . . I’d guess that only a quarter of the men sing.”

I can confirm this. At last Sunday’s service, I scanned what I could of the audience around me to see who was singing. At the beginning of the worship set, I watched more congregants refraining than participating. And almost no men sung. By the end, more people had joined in, including men, but not a lot. Everyone stood, but few sang.

How can we instill in men the vital experience and persistent habit of worship?

We can demand change. Pastor Doug Bursch disputes the premise that churches have feminized and professionalized their services. And even if they did, he rejects those as valid excuses for not worshipping God. Basing his argument on the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, Bursch reduces the problem to the condition of men’s hearts. Like Cain, guys offer second-rate worship to God when they ought to give Him their best, as Abel did. The solution is not to change Sundays but to transform souls. The fear of the Lord will achieve this.

“You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” – Deuteronomy 6:13 (NASB)

Besides requiring repentance, we can also depict the fulfillment that comes from worshiping God. In Real Men Worship, music ministry leader LaMar Boschman frames healthy masculinity within the context of devotion to the Most High. And Merlin Carothers wrote several books expounding the blessings and benefits of praising God.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” – Exodus 15:2 (NIV)

Repentance and encouragement may persuade men to honor the Lord. But remember “the Sunday clothes. The contemporary love songs to Jesus. The winding sermons. Typical dudes don’t thrill to any of those things.”

If we want to motivate men to worship, there’s something else we need to do.

We must teach them.

I’m not talking about sermons and Sunday School classes that promote praise and worship. I mean choosing, crafting, and performing songs that instruct Christians in their faith.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about this subject. In that article, I analyzed admonitions Paul wrote to two different churches. Here are the passages:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” – Ephesians 5:18-20 (NASB)

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:16-17 (NASB)

Ephesians grounds worship in the Holy Scriptures; Colossians, in the Holy Spirit. Apart from that difference, both epistles affirm that songs educate. Paul disregards issues that capture the attention of many Christians today, like how lyrics make us feel or which musical style wins God’s approval. Instead, he cares about how worship ministry edifies the church.

Pastor John MacArthur insists that “worship is directly correlated to understanding. The richer your theology, the more full your grasp of biblical truth, the more elevated your worship becomes.”

Emotions have value, but they follow dedicated expression. As Pastor Eugene Peterson writes, ”worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.”

Murrow observes that contemporary worship songs are less “about” God and more “to” Him. In other words, our lyrics favor “You” over “Him.” He recommends more of the latter because, he contends, men prefer those kinds of lyrics.

But we find both types in the psalms. For example, Psalm 111 exalts God for His good deeds toward Israel:

“Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. 4He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. 5He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever. 6He has shown His people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. 8They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever–holy and awesome is His name. 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” (NIV)

In Psalm 5, the writer addresses God Himself:

“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. 2Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. 3In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. 4For You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with You, evil people are not welcome. 5The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence. You hate all who do wrong; 6You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. But I, by Your great love, can come into Your house; in reverence I bow down toward Your holy temple. 8Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies–make Your way straight before me. 9Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. 10Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against You. 11But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. 12Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.” (NIV)

So Psalm 111 talks about God in the third person while Psalm 5 speaks to Him in the second person. (Sorry to get grammatical there!)

But Psalm 3 does both:

“Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’ 3But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. 5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. 7Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessing be on Your people.” (NIV)

While I appreciate Murrow’s concern, the Bible frees us to sing to the Lord and about Him. We don’t have to choose between them.

Let’s make sure our hymns and choruses communicate significant biblical themes. While our songs needn’t substitute for sermons, they should complement them. A deep song will give people something worth pondering throughout the week.

By memorable music, we transport into mundane routines the spiritual lessons we absorb in worship. The songs of the church can teach men how to conduct themselves in God’s kingdom and in their jobs. Peterson suggests that “worship should be a renewal of work, not an escape from our work.”

Songs that address the heart and nourish the mind benefit all believers in Christ.

Including men.

 

 

I hope this article makes you wonder and ponder this week. We worship Him above else because we are privileged to do so. It’s not a burden.

Until next week,

Vanessa.

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Guest Post by Lance Price.

Featured image is of the Christian band “Disciple” taken from the web.

I came across posts by Lance when they passed through my reader.  I was intrigued and went back to some of his older posts. While I’ve not yet met Lance, he and I have similar stories in that our respective parents divorced when we were teenagers. But God. God pursued me ( and He does with you as well ) and my brother and we came back to the Lord, mostly because of the church ( and the pastors) that we worshipped in. Lance has a similar testimony, (click on the link and read it, it’s worth the time). In this post Lance writes about what worship means to him. I hope to show you that worship is a daily experience. One that you choose to praise Him. To love Him. To honour Him. To turn your eyes to Him and watch the miracles happen when you put Him first.

 

Lance is a 30-year-old

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Lance Price

 Christian writer who resides in southern California. He enjoys reading and weight-lifting during his leisure time, but he flourishes the most with the support and brotherhood of his closest friends at his church

When he feels God moving him to write, Lance is excited to share with others what God is teaching him about life, and is impassioned to share his faith experiences with the world through his blog Lance Price Blog 2017.

You can connect with Lance at Instagram – lpblog2017 or https://www.instagram.com/lpblog2017/  

Pinterest – Lance Price Blog 2017 or https://www.pinterest.com/LPBlog2017/ Twitter – @LPBlog2017 or https://www.pinterest.com/LPBlog2017/

Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017 or https://www.facebook.com/lancepriceblog/

A lifestyle of worship.

First, I just want to send a very gracious thank you to Vanessa for having me guest post on her blog. This is truly a privilege and an exciting experience to share with a different crowd and to write about something new. Thank you, Vanessa, for having me here!

RELIGION, RITUALS, AND A DISTANT GOD

Worship had no meaning or place in my life until I was 28 turning 29, when I had a more firm understanding of the importance of surrendering myself to praising the God of my faith. But let’s backtrack to gain context.

In the Catholic church I was raised in, worship meant singing along to sonorous organ music following the lead singer on a podium in the front with a microphone. The song lyrics held no meaning for me; I didn’t understand the significance of the words being sung since no one ever spoke about faith. Growing up, I was deeply exposed to the strictured vernacular of religion, meaning, I was brought up having the emphasis of repentance, shame, and the lifestyle of rituals and performance thrown on me—instead of the radical message of hope, rebirth, and the challenging but prolifically joyful news of the Gospels. Because of this, my understanding of worship (rather than obligatory sing-alongs) was poorly educated, spiritually-speaking. Needless to say, I was not drawn into the atmosphere of worship and it did not bring me closer to a distant God who apparently wanted nothing more from me than my guilt.

By the time I reached middle school, I had no understanding of Jesus beyond the “thees” and “thous” of the Bible being used at my school. More importantly, I had absolutely no interest in learning, since my middle school years directly followed the trauma of my parents’ divorce in the fall of 1999, and my grandparents’ death a month later (a few weeks before Christmas)—both of which transpired at the end of my elementary school experience.

RED & KORN

During the 7-8 year interstice of blunt atheism and agnosticism which immediately ensued, I drove myself as far away from worship, church, the Bible, and Jesus as I could. At 16, I discovered the Nu Metal Rock band called Korn, and around that same time, Red—two rock bands; one very dark and heavy, the other heavy and yet Christian.

Red’s first album, “Innocence and Instinct,” caught my attention instantly, before I even knew they were Christian. I found their songs to be emotionally fitting for my place in life, and a few years later, when I discovered their Christian background, I realized how their music had been a form of worship all along. Years later in 2015, on their most recent album, “Of Beauty and Rage,” their song “Take Me Over” is one of my favorite worship songs. Exposing myself to the heavier and more raw nature of such artists as Korn, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Lamb of God (before finding Christ) opened me to connecting with heavier Christian music. For this reason, even current day, I worship less with artists like Chris Tomlin and Jeremy Camps, and more so with artists such as Red, Fireflight, and Love & Death (with Brian Welch from Korn); who are heavier in sound but Christian in message. However, I do love songs such as Elevation Worship’s “Come to the Altar,” Jeremy Camp’s “Jesus Saves,” Hillsong’s “Forever Reign,” and Chris Tomlin’s “Our God.” God speaks to me with strength, joy, hope, courage, and deep love with these songs.

THE ACT OF WORSHIP

What remains inarguable is the way God works uniquely in each of our lives. While God used Korn and Red with me, He might not use them with someone else. He may use classical music or rap, or He may not even use music at all. I don’t believe Christians are restricted to only listen to Christian and Gospel in order to have an open, receptive, praising spirit; however, I would warn against believers listening to rock (or any music) with the intent of worshipping the art of music rather than the art of God. The difference is in separating the worship of God’s love through these artistic conduits of expression rather than worshipping the people who create it.

To use music as a means of bringing praise to Jesus, we remain in a posture of worship. But the moment we feel we must turn on music for the purpose of reminding us of God, it is then that not only have we changed the nature of our actions from worship to ritual, we have also supplanted our faith in Christ with the belief that only music can bring us close to God’s presence. This lie destroys the blessing of worship by indicting our souls with a lack of trust in God. In other words, to “need” music in order to worship changes the message we send to God from that of praise to that of fear. We are afraid if we must use an instrument in order to find God’s presence, when His presence is within us already. If we ritualize music in order to sing God our praises, then we are no longer worshipping God; rather, we are using a powerless tool within the subtext of a spiritual-less routine, lacking the merit for glory.

WORSHIP AS A LIFESTYLE

Worship as a lifestyle is not at all like worship as an event. Attending Sunday service to be “revved up” is basically the equivalent of attending a Christian rave party: Church becomes the meth served through the expectation that mere attendance will inflate our spirits with holiness. While spiritual music is meant to complement the posture of humility and surrender in praising God, it cannot be the sole reason we attend church each week. When this happens, worship becomes a ritual or routine instead of a mentality. The difference is how a ritual doesn’t involve giving praise to God, but rather, placating our repetitious need for continuity. To live in worship of Jesus means committing ourselves to His command to love others (even strangers) by speaking truth and acting in reverence of Him through the love, forgiveness, and compassion of our words, time, and generosity.

I will admit this is hard for me to do, so I empathize with those of you who can admit to finding this a harder reality to encompass. For many of us, going out of our way for a stranger as an extension of our love for Jesus is sometimes like having our parents ask for something in need at the worst possible moment: While we are willing, we are also hesitant to follow through on-command. However, Jesus calls us to be obedient and authentic, and I believe even taking the time to slow down and become in touch with our hesitant spirits is better than saying no and walking away to avoid the inner conflict altogether. I believe Jesus recognizes the stuttering and stammering heart of the individual before it acquiesces and that He gives mercy to the final surrender; whereas I believe He does not give mercy to the individual who blindly denies His call out of stubborn disobedience.

To reiterate, worship as only sing-along songs during a once-per-week service is not worship, but an act of the extracurricular and the religious. In other words, if we leave worship in the church building, we express ourselves to be as secular as an unbeliever who ignores church altogether. If we are not treating worship as both a communal expression of our thankfulness for God’s goodness in our lives and the lives of others—as well as a daily habit of loving others in reflection of our love for Christ—then we are abusing the purpose of worship and undermining the meaning of giving Him praise for our lives.

MOVING FORWARD WITH PURPOSEFUL DISCERNMENT

I hope that by reading this, we are able to understand more clearly the role music plays in the life of a Christ-follower, as well as the intention behind our actions. We are not banned from enjoying other types of music (non-Christian), but the intention of our heart behind the pleasure received from music is what divides the end result between worship and ritualistic action. Our past also does play a part in the way we view and receive how music influences our spirits, but this doesn’t change the intention behind the way we treat music when we are intending to give ourselves to Jesus. In other words, there are no excuses; either music helps bring us closer to God, or it deters us from extolling His sovereignty, provision, and goodness. When we can accept this blunt-edge truth, we can finally see the line drawn between an act of selfish repetition (ritual) and a selfless act derived from the desire to please the One who gives us all that we have. Truly, there is much to be thankful for, and worship is our extension of acknowledgment to God, saying: “Thank you, and praise you God, for you are always good and you always love me! Thank you for all that you are, and all that you’ll always be. I praise you for your glory and your provisions, and I ask for the humility to never forget that all I am comes from you. Thank you, Jesus! Be glorified!” To Jesus be the glory and honor and praise forever and ever!

THANK YOU FOR READING!

Again, I would like to express my gratitude to Vanessa for having me guest post on her blog! I was very humbled when she asked me if I would do this, and I hope by writing this, I have helped others see worship in a new light which before had not yet been realized. May we all be blessed as we praise God for His goodness through His son, Jesus Christ! May we carefully discern our reason and purpose for the music we listen to, as well as the actions we take when we move into the world—where our faith is tested and challenged by those who have yet to receive God’s grace and thank Him for the gift of open eyes and softened heart. This truly is a blessing of its own worth praising Jesus for all eternity. Be lifted up, readers, in Jesus name!

I really hope you were blessed by Lance’s post. I have to admit that I’ve never heard of these Christian heavy metal bands!! Not my style, but they may be quite a few of you that do like this music. Lance sent me a suggestion and I’m going to add that song to this post. It’s called “Radical” by a group named “Disciple”. See you next week,

Vanessa.

 

Guest post by Diana Monte.

Featured image is “Still waters at Dawn…… An original oil painting by Diana Monte. “

I would love to tell you that what I remember fondly about Diana is her long, rich, black hair or her amazing height, but that’s not it. Every time I think of her , I remember a woman being patient and loving and ready to meet me in my broken-ness. She did not know me then, but I was crying and sobbing my heart out at church one evening, and she came and sat with me ( and pretended for a short time that she did not see my tears ) and told me she was waiting eagerly for her daughters to come back from college on vacation. She made small talk and drew me out. Once we were conversing she asked me what was on my heart, and do you know it, it brought the tears back! This time in release. I’m forever grateful to Diana for just hearing me out, and then praying with me and seeking me out after this episode. I think you’d love what constitutes worship to her. I pray you will be blessed by her post as I have been by the person.

Some other posts on worship by other authors are Guest post by Kailee Diaz., Guest post by Carole Sparks.Guest post by Vanessa A Harris. and Guest post by Bruce Cooper.  These godly authors have written on what worship means to them and each of the posts are very different. My hope is to inspire you to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and to do so daily, minute by minute, hour by hour. He deserves your worship.

16" x 20" Taos Winter by Diana Monte
Painting by Diana Monte.

 

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Arabian prince by Diana Monte

Diana Monte has been teaching private painting classes for the past twenty years. She is a ‘juried’ artist whose work has been shown at the New Mexico State Fair, local Art Studio Tours, Los Ranchos Lavender Festival, Encantada Art Exhibition and several other venues. She currently is the featured poster winner for  lavenderinthevillage.com  being held on July 15th.

It is Diana’s genuine hope that her paintings bring an atmosphere of peace to a home and reflect the beauty displayed in God’s creation. You can find her art at dianamontefineart.com

Diana and her husband John live in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque with their two beautiful  daughters, Ariana and Lydia. Her husband John is on the Pastoral Staff at Legacy Church and Diana is actively involved Directing the Bliss Women’s Ministry at the East Campus at her church. Her passion is to use her art to glorify Him and to bring women into a deeper knowledge of Him.

Diana monte 1
Diana Monte

 

 

 

I was asked by Vanessa to share a little bit about Worship and how it is a part of my daily life.  I agreed and I am delighted to share a few things with you that hopefully will help you along in life. ☺

I am an artist and I am so very thankful to God for this gift/talent of creativity. Using oil paint on a canvas is an expression and passion of mine to glorify and honor Him. Over the course of many years, I have said “If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it!”   So I regularly and continually utilize and broaden my painting skills so that the God given talent increases.  It is my heart’s desire that my paintings will minister to people in some way. I pray and ask God for wisdom and ability when I paint.   Bottom line: I want to utilize my artistic talents more and more to glorify God.

Worship – the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration.

“the worship of God”

synonyms:

reverence, veneration, adoration, glorification, glory, exaltation;

devotion, praise, thanksgiving, homage, honor;

archaic magnification

Every day is a new day to grow and transform into the person that God has destined you and I to be.  What talent/gift has God given you to utilize??

Every day isn’t a bed of roses, we all face challenges, obstacles and trials in one way or another.  In the midst of these trying times, do we press into God for help and direction?  You see, our transformation usually occurs when we are being hard pressed and challenged in an uncomfortable circumstance or situation.

No matter the circumstances around you remember that God is for you and not against you. He is your strength when you are weak and weary. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

II Corinthians 12:9 / Psalm 121:1-2

I often will journal the struggles I am facing and write down the following:

  • The date and description of what the circumstances are
  • What I am praying and believing God for
  • And the emotions I am going through at the time.
  • I pray for wisdom and direction and declare that I am trusting God to be with me through it!  I always try to pray until I have a peace knowing that it is God’s hands and not mine.
  • I also find a couple of scripture verses that I can say out loud to continually pray over every situation. It is only then that I can rejoice & praise Him by faith, for the victory.

Some prayers are answered quickly and some may take years to see.

But the Fact remains, our God is Faithful !

I cannot have a victory without having the battle! A Victory reminds me that God has heard my cries for help. Growing through the tough times makes you and me stronger in so many areas.  The most important thing is knowing that God is actively involved in my life.  To me, that makes life worth living and gives me something wonderful to Worship Him for!

A situation could might be staring me in the Face, and I KNOW that it’s going to work itself out. How do I know?? Because God has ALWAYS brought me through every single situation!  I can wholeheartedly say that I can Worship God every day regardless of what I feel like.

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] Philippians 3:10 (AMPC)

I pray God’s blessing over you, that your gifts/talents and abilities continue to grow and increase.  May you also express Worship wholeheartedly in your daily life!

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Olive Harvest by Diana Monte

 

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Daises by Diana Monte

 

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Some of Diana’s paintings on view at the Lavender festival. My favourites are the “Jesus the good shepherd” (3rd row, 2nd painting) and the “Still waters at Dawn” (2nd row, 1st painting, also the featured image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading Diana’s post. Bring your talents to Him and watch Him do wonders with it.

In Him,

Vanessa.

 

Guest post by Bruce Cooper.

I first read some of Bruce’s posts as they came across my feed. I have to say that I am amazed by the depth of work, research and effort he has put into most of his posts. He writes straight out from the Bible and then explains it. I have re blogged several of his posts ( most notably on the Tabernacle (from Leviticus) series). I know you will be blessed as you read what worship means to Bruce in his life.

Some other posts on worship from other authors are Guest post by Kailee Diaz , Guest post by Carole Sparks and Guest post by Vanessa A Harris.

I’d love for you to make time to know Christ in a real and personal way. And that you know that He wants all of you, wants to be part of your daily life and cares for all the minutiae and details in your life. Come to Him, surrender completely and worship Him in spirit and in truth always. 

 

Bruce  Cooper is just an ordinary Christian. Ex-military (35 years service), Information

Bruce
Bruce Cooper

Technology Network Administration background, happily married 46+ years to the love of his life (humanistically speaking) with 5 grown up children and 6 grandchildren A.K.A. Papa. He is a non-denominational Protestant, born again in  his mid twenties, now 72 years old (semi-retired). He is strong advocate that all Christians should be involved in Christian Apologetics so that we are prepared to give an answer to any who might ask. He lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

 

I Will Worship the Lord

The word that is frequently used in the Old Testament for worship is the Hebrew word “shachah” (Gen 22:5) which literally means “to bow down, to depress, to prostrate oneself”. But the actual position we place our body in when we worship God is secondary to what takes place in our hearts, minds and  souls. I’m not defining what worship is here, or the various aspects of what constitutes true Biblical worship. I’m making this personal because for me, worship is personal, it’s between my God and me, even when I am collectively worshiping God with others. I believe true worship is designed to be that way. Personal.

I have a hard time trying to put into words what comes into my mind and spirit when I worship God because in essence, it is my concept and experience of God’s totality. Yes, I know, you are probably thinking, is that even possible and I agree with you, it isn’t, not even close. But God knows that. He knows everything. He knows everything about me and He still accepts my worship of Him.

Many years ago, for a short period of time (two or three minutes), God ushered me into His presence. I don’t know why He orchestrated it but He did. I can’t forget it nor do I want to. I cherish it. I saw nothing, I heard nothing, but I was there, in the Spirit. Instantaneously I was aware of three things at the same time:

God is Holy.  Holy is not a word, holiness radiates from His person. I sensed it with every fibre of my being. I can’t explain His Holiness any other way. He just is. It is beautiful beyond words.

He is the Creator, I am the creature. No doubt, no question, difference between God and me was immense (beyond words). There is no argument, no discussion, He is the creator. Done.

God’s Love: Can’t possibly explain it. NEVER wanted to leave. The most beautiful awareness I have ever experienced in my entire life. God is the source and it is so beautiful.

And then He was gone. I have more details in a post entitled: https://bcooper.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/lingering-imperfections/

I understand why the prophets of old fell to their knees when the Angel of the Lord (divinity) appeared to them in the Old Testament. You don’t think about it, you just do, like blinking our eyelids. I worship our heavenly Father, His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit because I can’t do anything else but. To me, worship is communion with God, that special time whether it be in prayer, while singing a hymn or studying His Word, when I just stop and acknowledge Him for who He is and his greatness. But that is part of my story, you have your own, that is why it is personal, between you and God. God has no grandchildren, it has to be between you and Him. That is why my testimony is really not important, your testimony is.

The Bible verse that best exemplifies worship for me is Romans 12:1-2: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”

Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. Worship can include praying, reading God’s Word with an open heart, singing, participating in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done properly when the heart and attitude of the person are in the right place.

Worshipping God is an excellent way of keeping God as a priority in our lives. For me, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit quite frequently of the many many times He has intervened on my behalf over the years. When that happens, when I am reminded, I instantly thank Him again and worship His Lordship over my life. I am thankful for the reminders, we have a tendency to forget how constant God’s love for us is, and has been, even when, in those part’s of our lives, we were not seeking Him. Feed on God’s Word, drink of His guidance through the Holy Spirit. Worship will follow.

I find a direct correlation between the amount of time that I spend in God’s Word and the awareness of God’s direction and presence in my life. You can’t enjoy the water or even learn to swim unless you literally get into it. It is that way with God’s Word. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t have all my questions answered, I still fall short daily, but ….. His peace, His assurance, the sense of God’s love and purpose for my life and those that I love is there and stays there, when I make Him a priority daily by studying His Word, commune with Him in prayer and worship Him as His Spirit within me directs me. Jesus is the Truth!

So yes, I will worship the Lord, I will praise His Holy name, I will sing our His glory, I will bend my knee in His presence, I will thank Him for His sacrifice, I will marvel at His love and purpose. He is my God, I can worship none other. I love Him and He made all this happen by first loving me.

2 Corinthians 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

———————————-

Your brother in Christ – Bruce

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

I hope this post blessed you. See you next time,

In Him,

Vanessa.

Guest post by Vanessa A Harris.

Awhile ago I started asking other bloggers to write guest posts on worship for me. It’s something that I’ve become more and more aware of these past few months. What percentage of my day/ week/  month / year do I give to God? How often do I think of Him? How often would I assume He’s not interested in the nitty -gritty of my life? How often do  I strive to be near Him? In speaking to Liv and Monica, I’ve become convinced worship of my Saviour needs to be constant, daily, all the time, everywhere. So in keeping with that, I’ve asked other writers (who are in different seasons of their lives with different obligations ) to tell us what that looks like for them. Some of those posts are Guest post by Kailee Diaz and Guest post by Carole Sparks.

I’d like to introduce you to my sister (in Christ ), Vanessa 🙂 Apart from the common name, our lives and life experiences are very similar, but what she’s written here in this post is so very different from what I would have imagined. Vanessa is the author of Daddy’s Girl Forever and she has a boutique where she sells clothing with Christian themes/ words on it. Right now her favorite is “Jesus is everything”. If you are interested, please click on the links provided. If not, continue reading 🙂

These days Vanessa is in a lifestyle of worship where she remembers what God has done for her everyday. What constitutes worship for her may not do so for you, or you may not have thought of it as worship. That’s all right. My goal with these different guest posts is to hopefully expand what worship means to you and/ or give you different view points on what worship means to us. All of the writers I’ve asked are intentionally seeking Him in their daily life, they aren’t relegating Jesus just to Sunday mornings or maybe Wednesday evenings as well. My prayer is that you will seek Him daily too.

VANESSA A. HARRIS, M.D., M.S. is a writer, blogger, and poet, the wife of Mark, and the

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Vanessa Harris

mother of their three amazing children.  She’s a pediatrician and preventive medicine physician turned stay at home mom and writer.  Through her writing, she encourages living by grace through faith.  Read more from her at vinelifefaith.com.  

 

 

 

 

TABLE WORSHIP

When someone says ‘worship;’     prayer, with an open bible, and worship music playing softly in the background, may come to mind. While they’re all necessary, there’s another element to worship I’ve enjoyed daily for several months—receiving Communion.

I thought you could only do that at church, after the Pastor prayed over the bread and the cup?

I used to think so too. On the day of Pentecost, after the Apostle Peter preached, about 3000 came to faith in Christ and from then on, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers; doing so from house to house (see Acts 2: 41-42, 46).” Prayer, diving into the Word and celebrating the Lord’s Supper occurred regularly in homes in the early Church. The concept of relegating Communion to the four walls of a church building is a tradition born of convenience, not Scripture.

I believe Communion has a place in personal and corporate worship.

In simplest terms, we worship what we hold in high regard. Communion commemorates Jesus’ one sacrifice for sins, forever. In receiving Communion, we honor Jesus’ saving work on the cross. We celebrate the act central to our faith, where new life in Christ began.

It’s no wonder Jesus said these words to His disciples at the last supper, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Cor 11:26, emphasis added).”

As often” is up to each of us. I find strength in rehearsing the significance of His sacrifice daily; remembering the price Jesus paid for my freedom, the passion behind it, the power in it, and the permanence of it!

Coming to the table every morning to receive Communion starts my day off with a victory mindset. I’m coming to a table prepared for me in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23:5), because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He declared He won.

Jesus overcame all sickness, diseases and infirmities with the breaking open of His body at the whipping post. Enforcing the word that by His stripes I am healed (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24).

Jesus destroyed the power of condemnation in my life; taking my sin, guilt, shame, and judgment on Himself (Romans 8:1 NIV, Galatians 3:13, Hebrews 10: 11-22). He drowned them all in His sinless blood.

Jesus thoroughly disarmed the devil, neutralizing every weapon he forms against me (Colossians 2:15). Because Jesus won, by faith, so did I.

The times we’re living in with its pace and pressures, distract and trip us up. Starting the day in worship grounds me. Focusing on the Father’s love and grace demonstrated in Jesus on the cross, as a part of worship, puts everything in perspective. I don’t know what a given day holds, but I know God is greater, He’s for me and my victory is certain!

*All Scripture, unless otherwise noted is the NKJV.

 

 

When you take the Lord’s Supper, do you remember the sacrifice and atonement that He paid for you? Share with me what you think of Vanessa’s post and how worship is a part of your lifestyle.

With thanks,

Vanessa S.

Guest post by Carole Sparks.

Look closely at the picture above. Just look. Intently. I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this post.

Carole Sparks is our guest today. I came across Carole in my feeds because of her inventive- funny- attention grabbing headlines! I mean how can you not open The completely not-boring history of the Bible, then I really read her posts and I’ve loved it. If I wrote about Psalm 8 , would you read it? Probably not, but if I titled it If the mouse was King of the jungle, would you click on it? Most likely. That’s what Carole did. (Seriously! Click on the link and you’ll read about what she learnt from Psalm 8, there’s some very important truths in that post). So I’ll let Carole tell you what worship means to her and how she makes worship of our Father her lifestyle.

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Carole Sparks

Carole is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com, or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

As much as I am tempted to sleep in on Sunday mornings, I love worship time with my church. You see, we lived in a place without churches or church services for more than six years. Our corporate worship time involved gathering in the living room with some praise choruses pulled up on a computer screen. I think God was honored in those moments, but it was nothing like adding your voice to a few dozen (or a few hundred) other believers, singing out in praise and accompanied by talented musicians. Corporate worship and preaching fuel me for the week ahead.

But Sunday mornings are not the only time I worship.

Christ brought in himself the sacrifice of God for us and our sacrifice for God. For us there remains only the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in prayers, hymns, and in a life lived according to God’s commands (Psalms 15 and 50). So our entire life becomes worship, the offering of thanksgiving.  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (pg. 41).

I have learned that worship shouldn’t be a noun. It’s not a person, place, or thing; it’s an action. Sometimes it’s an active verb, like on Sunday mornings when we worship together. And sometimes it’s more like a state-of-being verb, a mindset that pervades everything else.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Roman Christians,

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.  –Romans 12:1

That phrase, “living sacrifice” sounds like an oxymoron (like “jumbo shrimp”). A sacrifice, by definition, is killed—whether it’s a lamb, a dove, an ox, or something else. Even the grain and wine sacrifices of Numbers were poured out and burned up. They were completely given over to God. To be a sacrifice but continue living must mean we are wholly devoted to God—like the sacrifices on the altar…but without the fire. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when Paul elsewhere describes our lives as a pleasing aroma (2 Corinthians 2:14-16. Note that God is the one pleased in that verse, not other people.). Like the burnt offerings, which smelled like grilling steak in the backyard on a summer evening (Exodus 29), our lives—our whole lives, not just our Sunday morning lives—are to swirl up toward God and delight Him. In Paul’s eyes, this life-lived-out is real worship, not the processionals into sanctuaries, the rituals of religion, or the observances of rules and regulations.

If you’re not yet convinced, look on down through Romans 12. Paul doesn’t talk about proper ritual procedures. Like any good middle school essay, Paul backs up his thesis (v. 1) with three examples: humility, spiritual gifts acted out daily in the body of Christ, and love. These are essential to a life of worship, and they happen alongside everyday occurrences.

And so we are called to live a life—all of life—in this merger of the sacred and the secular, to consciously worship continually until an attitude of worship infiltrates every aspect of life.

Nearly three hundred years ago, a monk named Brother Lawrence learned to focus His mind on God’s glory and presence even as he went about the ordinary tasks of life. He was a cook, not a worship leader, and yet every aspect of his life felt as if he were kneeling before the throne of God. He wrote about it in The Practice of the Presence of God. What a model for us!

But how? How are the everyday tasks of life worshipful? It happens when your focus is not on yourself or even the task at hand but rather on God’s glory in and through that action.

If all that a believer does grows out of faith and is done for the glory of God, then all dualistic distinctions are demolished. There is no higher/lower, sacred/secular, perfect/permitted, contemplative/active or first class/second class. Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself. Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. –Os Guinness (quoted here by Paul Sohn)

See how Guinness removes that distinction between times of worship and the rest of life? He would say our primary calling is to glorify God, and our secondary calling is to our vocation or even simply the task at hand. That secondary calling must take place within the primary calling.

What does that mean, practically?

  • Filling a work order is worship.
  • Answering an e-mail is worship.
  • Changing diapers is worship.
  • Waiting on a red light to change is worship.
  • Playing softball is worship.
  • Of course, sharing Christ with your friend or coworker is worship.
  • Any act of obedience to God is worship, even—perhaps especially—grabbing a cup of coffee with that friend who needs a listening ear.
  • And yes, singing out loud to God along with a bunch of other people is still most definitely worship, if your attitude is right. So is singing praise songs (or old hymns) by yourself in the car…or the shower.

I plan to keep my Sunday mornings like they are for now: studying God’s Word and praising Him with other believers. But by focusing on God’s glory throughout the day, I’m working to make the rest of my week just as worshipful as Sunday morning.

Did you like the post? I hope to have more guest blogs here on worship, so you can see how and what that looks like for different people. I hope you will remember that anything ( and everything ) you do can be an act of worship to the One who created us if there’s a proper attitude involved. One of humility and repentance. Anyway I pray that He becomes more real to you, every day, every minute and you spend your life in His presence. Let me know what worship is to you.

See you next week,

Vanessa.

(PS Carole took the featured image. Did you see what it depicted? It’s taken at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Athens, Greece and Carole loved the interesting light, the images shown and how the picture just speaks worship)

Guest post by Kailee Diaz.

I first read posts by Kailee Diaz when it came across my feed and I’ve loved the way she writes. Her love for Christ and her passion to disciple people come across in a very real way. One of her posts that really ministered to me is A daughter of the King. She writes good advice to those who want to write or are in the process of writing, you can read a sample here. This is the first guest writer on here and I hope that will be the start of many more. I pray that you will be blessed as you read Kailee’s take on worship in her life.

 

“Kailee Diaz is a Christian historical-romance author. She posts to her site (www.kaileediaz.com) throughout the week on topics of faith and love in hopes that she shines a light on enduring truth. 

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Kailee Diaz

Kailee is a pastor’s kid, with generations of preachers in her family line. Through their lives, she’s witnessed the legacy faith leaves behind and hopes to share just a glimpse of this within her writing. She’s now a happily married wife to a wonderful husband. Together, they reside in Ohio and love serving their local church. She seeks to leave a legacy for future tales to be told and hopes you’ll join her in the wonderment of God’s faithfulness on this journey through life.” 

 

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:14-16

Worship is much more than church singing on Sunday. It’s a lifestyle—a privileged choice by which we get to come before the Father and say “my life is yours.” That’s why Peter describes Christian behavior as holy. Who we follow is depicted by how we live.

If you ask most Christians, holiness describes God, not us. It’s not something we feel portrays the flawed lives we live. And yet, it is the very thing that Scripture says we obtain from Christ.

Check out what Paul says in Galatians 5:24:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So what does a crucified life look like in a modern world?

Well, I would dare to say it’s a life of sacrifice. We’re choosing to give up everything and anything that embraces less than holy. That sounds radical, doesn’t it?

For me, that means I’m careful about the television shows and movies I let into my life. I choose to view what seems honoring to Him. I also use God’s name with dignity, not flippantly or without intention. I make church a priority, and I seek to love people with compassion.

Now that isn’t an exhaustive list, but holiness is a lifestyle of worship where we have chosen to place God first and foremost.

Let me paraphrase a verse from 2 Timothy 4:7:

Fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith.

That’s your calling if you know Christ. Every generation of believers has a mission. My father once told me each Christian decides where to set his morals. With the passing of generations, the bar often moves lower. We live a life of worship to keep the faith, to preserve it, to represent God’s holiness in a lost world. And today, you can decide where you’ll set that bar for worship. Are you seeking Christ’s holiness or your own moral code?

Well I hope you loved that. My prayer for you is that worship becomes a lifestyle for you. Whatever you say and do will be a reflection of Him, and that will be your witness to the world. I generally add a song to my posts, and while this is Kailee’s post, I’m going to add a new favourite 🙂  See you next week,

Love

Vanessa.