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How to Get Into Worship

Posted on January 28, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24

Do you ever feel, in a worship setting, that you are disconnected? The worship leader is doing his best to get you into the experience but you just can’t get into it. You just feel like something is missing. Maybe you blame the music. Let’s face it; churches are using a lot of music styles in attempts to whip us into a worship frenzy.

When my youngest son was very young, I decided that organized sports would be good for him. So I signed him up for t-ball. When the first game arrived my wife and I couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark. What a thrill to see him playing centerfield. That’s where they put the best players, right? And so the game began.

As the first batter came to the plate, Michael went for a little walk in the outfield. He smiled and waved at his other teammates in the outfield as he strolled happily toward the outfield fence. His coach yelled for him to get into position, but Michael was more interested in inspecting the fence.

Suddenly the batter made contact and the ball darted up the middle of the field over second base and — you guessed it — into centerfield. The coaches and fans screamed at the centerfielder to get the ball, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

The coach called time and ran into the outfield for some one on one instruction. With his finger, he drew a circle in the dirt and told him not to step outside the boundary. Dutifully, Michael took his place and was once again ready to face the action on the field.

The next batter slammed another grounder up the middle, past second base, and just to the left of Michael’s circle. The coaches yelled frantically for Michael to get the ball. But he just stood there. Again the coach called time and marched to center field.

“Michael, why didn’t you get the ball?” he inquired.

“You told me to stay in the circle,” replied Michael.

From beginning to end it was apparent that Michael just wasn’t into the game. There was no connection between him and baseball. He just wasn’t into it.

In today’s selected scripture Jesus encounters a woman at a well in Samaria. The Samaritans were brought to the region of Samaria by the king of Assyria. Most were from near Babylon. These strangers integrated with the Jews still remaining in the land, and gradually abandoned their old idolatry and adopted parts of the Jewish religion. However, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to allow them to worship in their temple. Consequently, the Samaritans erected a rival temple. It was in the context of these religious and cultural differences that Jesus confronted the woman.

The Samaritan woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (John 4:20)

She is concerned about the place of worship. Jesus dismissed the notion when he said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (v 21)

Worship is not about a place or a building, but our right connection with God, through “spirit and truth.”

Jesus further amplifies His point by saying, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Worship then is connecting with God by communing with His spirit, and  focusing on His truth.

Imagine how you would react if a friend visited, sat down on your sofa, devoted her time to playing with her cellphone — never once attempting to engage you in conversation. You would wonder why they bothered to come.

That’s the way we often approach worship. Disengaged. Disconnected. Self-absorbed.

True worship must have a spiritual connection. “God is spirit.” For our heads and hearts to be into worship we must be connected to God through the Spirit.

Back to my original questions about worship: “Do you ever feel that you are disconnected?” Real worship can’t be manufactured. It’s not the ability of the worship leader or the hymns and songs that make worship real. In fact, it has little to do with being in church. It has everything to do with what is going on in your heart. Real worship begins with a right relationship to God through Christ and a spiritual connection with God through the Holy Spirit. Get your focus right and your worship will be right.

Get your heart right and meet God prayerfully through the Spirit. Pay less attention to what is going on around you and more attention to God. Make Him your focus and true worship will be the result.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Are You Missing Out On the Nearness of God?

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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The Greatest Worship Leader of All Time

Posted on December 16, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-47, 49

They used to be called choir directors. Over the years their title has been revised to music minister, minister of music, worship leader, minister of praise and worship, etc. Their basic function is to get our hearts and minds lifted in praise to God.

They are like cheerleaders, especially in contemporary church settings. They dance, shout, jump, and sing repetitive choruses in an attempt to whip us into a frenzy of praise. Whether that is a right or wrong approach is a debate for another time and place. Let it suffice to say — praise is essential to the life of the believer.

Did you ever say to someone, “You look good in that dress?” Or, “that color looks good on you.” Sometimes we actually mean those words, but often we’re just being nice; programmed expressions without heartfelt meaning.

Unfortunately, this kind of shallow praise can carry over in your relationship to God. You sing along with a favorite hymn or praise song while your mind focuses on another matter.

Praise that honors God must be genuine with the utmost integrity. Disingenuous praise misses the mark.

What I remember most about my first year in high school was crying cheerleaders. That’s because we had the poorest football team in the area and possibly the worst in state history. In an entire season our team was winless. Didn’t score a single point. No. Not one.

Nonetheless, the cheerleaders did their best to get the crowd into the game. How hard it must have been to shout, “Push ’em back, push ’em back, way back,” when they knew it wasn’t going to happen. And they could yell “go team go” all they wanted. But there was no way our team was going to “go,” in the right direction. To their credit, the girls kept cheering, albeit through tears.

Sometimes faith is like that. You still have it, still trust God. But your circumstances have caused inner turmoil and pain.

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by hardship you cried and praised God at the same time? There’s nothing wrong with it. Praise should be genuine welling up from the depths of our being.

Honesty in praise is filled with heart and soul. And when you can praise despite your sorrow, then you know your faith and love for God is genuine.

I have learned that praising God from a broken heart always generates healing and hope. There is no greater stress reliever.

Then there are those times in our lives when God does something incredibly amazing. In the selected scripture for today, Mary launches into a personal symphony of praise at the revelation of what God was doing in her life. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

She didn’t need the motivation of a worship leader. She only needed the realization of the work of God in her life. Her worship was highly personal and genuine, flowing from the depths of her being.

Here’s the bottom line on praise. Praise grows as you mature in your walk with God. The closer you get to the Lord, the more you will be aware of His awesome involvement in your life. Even in your darkest hour, you know His love is unwavering.

As His grace, mercy, goodness, provision, protection, and faithfulness grow in meaning, so will your heartfelt praise and adoration.

Your worship leader will no longer be a man or a woman — but God Himself. He is the greatest worship leader of all time.

For more on this topic, check out this article: The Song in Your Heart

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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