Worship is Ultimate Enjoyment

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Today’s article is a guest post from my friend Grace Kane.  Grace leads worship at The Well Community Church, she has a heart for others to see Jesus clearly and enjoy His presence.  At just 16 years old, her wisdom and love for the Lord encourages not only me, but our entire congregation.  Enjoy her words on worship below.

I have now been a worship leader for half of my life, which isn’t as profound as it sounds since I am only sixteen. Nonetheless, worship has defined much of my life to this point, especially worship through music.

Much of the Western church has taken the word “worship” and put it in the box of “worship through music”. How sadly mistaken we are. Music is merely an expression of worship. In reality worship is, “the attributing of ultimate worth to something”[1]. This is also called enjoyment. Ultimately, Jesus is the only one truly worthy of this unhindered enjoyment, despite the fact that we are constantly enjoying the things of this world far more than we delight in God.

As a worship leader, I have often questioned how to truly enjoy Jesus through this music I wake up to sing every Sunday at six, four services in a row, multiple times a month. Believe it or not, worship leaders do not have these magical, emotional, Spirit-filled moments every time we get up on the platform. Crazy, right?

The same can be said for my personal relationship with the Lord. When I wake up an hour before I need to so I can dive into the Word and prayer, it is rarely a time of happy-tears and rejoicing at all of the incredible truths I am finding in God’s Word. More often than not, it is a time of wishing I had more coffee and time to sleep.

But nonetheless, God has commanded us to spend time with him, delighting in him always (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16) So the question is, how do we enjoy, find satisfaction in, and worship God even when we don’t “feel like it”? How to we find joy in the Scriptures we are reading when we only have apathy? How do I get on stage to “lead” others authentically when I feel spiritually dry?

There is no magic formula in this fight for joy, but the words of my favorite hymn have so often aided me in this battle,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Before time in the Word or worship through music, I have to center my heart. This means going to war against Satan on my knees in prayer as he tries to turn my eyes to myself or the things of this world rather than on my King. This also means examining what I am pursuing. Am I pursuing God, or just a heightened emotional experience?

Look full in His wonderful face

This means intentionally looking for the ways that your affections are fueled for Jesus. For me, it is going into nature and marveling at His creation. Romans 1:20 talks about how God has blatantly revealed his power and divinity through creation, so we have no excuse to not see him.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

I love that it says “will”. It does not say that the things of earth automatically fade away when we focus our eyes on Christ. It is a process, described in Psalm 40, as waiting patiently for the Lord in the dry seasons, believing his promise that he will refuel our affections for him in his timing.

In the light of his glory and grace

Once witnessed, everything apart from Christ becomes shallow and dull in comparison to his majesty. On the other hand, apart from his grace, we have no ability to muster up our own joy. It is a gift. Accept it with thanksgiving, and express the joy! It is so much more than closing your eyes and raising your hands. It is delighting in the King. The Breather of the stars. The One who delights in you.

What would it look like if the church worshipped God in this way? The world around will look to us in wonder, curious as to what has fueled this lasting joy and satisfaction, compared to the momentary happiness which comes from worshipping the things of this world. Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus as we unite in attributing ultimate worth to our Savior.

[1] Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

 

IMG_1124Grace Kane is a student at Clovis North High School and a worship leader at The Well Community Church. She desires to usher people into the presence of God through music and to see her generation of girls rise up to be women after God’s own heart. You can usually find her on the rock climbing wall, in her room with her guitar, or at Kuppa Joy drinking green tea with lots of honey.

What is Worship?

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In an article from Christianity Today, Delesslyn A. Kennebrew says, “Worship is not the slow song that the choir sings. Worship is not the amount you place in the offering basket. Worship is not volunteering in children’s church. Yes, these may be acts or expressions of worship, but they do not define what true worship really is. There are numerous definitions of the word worship. Yet, one in particular encapsulates the priority we should give to worship as a spiritual discipline: Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary). True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness.”

In other words, worship is not about action or singing, but is a posture of heart. A heart that submits to God, a heart that reveres God, and a heart that honors God. While there are many expressions of worship (singing, dancing, praising, serving, standing in awe), worship first begins with devotion to the One True God.

To worship God means to ascribe the proper worth to God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God as He is worthy.  -Donald Whitney

Our God desires us to worship in both Spirit and Truth. As Jen Wilkin says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know”. True worship is more than a feeling, though certainly not less. It’s a response to what we know. True worship starts with communion—fellowship with the Father, joy, knowledge, delight and gratitude for Who God is and what He’s done for us through Christ.

What is True Worship?

It’s giving our lives as an offering, a complete surrender to God and living in response to His love and mercy. It’s letting our heart be conformed to His; it’s letting our minds be transformed by Him.
Therefore I urge you, 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, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

It’s standing in awe of God and magnifying Him to a world around you.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 43:3)

It’s serving because he served us.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

It’s love because He first loved us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)
 
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

It’s singing because He’s put a new song in our mouth.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3)

It’s celebrating, dancing, and praising because He has done a great thing!
“Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; 
Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150: 1-6)

It’s humility and adoration because He is exalted.
And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. (Revelation 4:8)

It’s forgiving because He forgave us.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

It’s calling out to Him because He called us.
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

It’s devotion because He will never leave or forsake us.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

It’s breaking bread, giving thanks, and remembering the cup because His body was broken and His blood was poured out for us.

Worship is an overflow, an expression of understanding God and responding to Him. It’s loving Him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s delighting in and desiring Him above all things. It’s our whole life being offered back to God because he gave His life for us.

This week, as we practice the spiritual discipline of worship, how can you meditate on Who God is and What He’s done? How can this knowledge of Him lead you into worship?

Other Resources:

The Cathedral Within by Sam Hart

Redefining Worship by Dorina Gilmore

Living the Ultimate Life by Michele Slayden

Oh the grace reaching out for me . . .

 

*Photo Credit: My little sister Jennifer Payne, who captured this picture on a walk in her hometown.

 

Learning to Kiss the Wave

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I walked into a room full with nearly 300 women, hungry, eager, craving to connect to each other and learn from God’s Word. I couldn’t believe my eyes–it was my greatest fantasy come true! 

We started off by going around the table to introduce ourselves. One by one, each of them shared who they were by sharing about their job, the number of years they’ve been married, and the number of children they have. At a table of 12 women, I realized I was the only one without children. 

While they were proudly identifying with their motherhood, I was becoming more aware of my barrenness…and began identifying with fear and insecurity. Immediately, I thought, “How do I get out of this? Can I run? Can I hide under the table? Can I fake an illness? Maybe I’ll just pretend to pass out, or that I’m receiving a phone call–quick, woman, think!!!” 

When my turn inevitably came around, I skipped over the awkward by identifying myself as “not a ballerina” and confessing my addiction to books.

I’m just so clever when I’m forced to think on my feet. 

We moved on to the next woman, and no one noticed we never got to the question about children for me–I never had to say the words, “I have no children.

WHILE THEY WERE PROUDLY IDENTIFYING WITH THEIR MOTHERHOOD, I WAS BECOMING MORE AWARE OF MY BARRENNESS…AND BEGAN IDENTIFYING WITH FEAR AND INSECURITY.

After months of being at peace with infertility (mostly out of relief from stopping all the crazy doctor stuff and my hormones finally weren’t raging anymore) the grief, the shame, the embarrassment, the insecurity, and the awareness all resurfaced again that day.

I watched a new mom holding her tiny newborn, another woman walk by with her baby bump, and another begin to nurse. I felt so alone.

Alone. Outcast. Different. Insecure.

Seems like most days walking through infertility isn’t so hard. Most days, it’s not even on my mind. It’s just a “not yet” or a “someday, LORD willing,” hope-filled thought. Then there are days where I am surrounded by hundreds of moments that remind me of what I am not, days where grief comes like a tidal wave. In Sara Hagerty’s book Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, the author talks about her journey through infertility and reminds us that “grief’s tide can’t be predicted.” She shares how grief is like rain; some days have a light drizzle that you hardly notice, other days a gushing downpour.

Usually, in my suffering, I want to run away and feel sorry for myself. I want to believe the lie that I am an outcast, a leper, that no one, no one, understands. I feel alone and start believing the lies that my story is unique and my pain is too severe for anyone to understand. Rather than going to God in those moments and looking upward, I pull away and start looking inward.

MY IDENTITY DOESN’T RESIDE IN MY JOB, MY MARRIAGE, AND MY BARRENNESS.  MY IDENTITY IS IN CHRIST.

Most of us want to run from our pain–it’s only natural. We touch something hot, we pull back; we get a headache, we pop an Advil. We don’t naturally desire to lean into the pain. But God’s way is supernatural. And that day, my heart was breaking and being comforted at the same time. 

I didn’t expect the grief to come that day. Infertility was something I thought I was at peace with–a light drizzle in the background–but instead, the grief came as a full on hurricane, overcoming me like a tidal wave.

As I fought to keep from believing lies, I was reminded of the gospel. I am not an outcast, I have been grafted in (Rom. 11). I am not forgotten or alone, I am chosen and loved (Eph. 1:4). I am not a product of my past mistakes or being punished for my past sin, I am a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). My identity doesn’t reside in my job, my marriage, and my barrenness.  My identity is in Christ.

Charles Spurgeon is quoted saying, “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages,” and it’s true; I am never more aware of God than when I’m drowning in the midst of pain and overwhelmed by circumstances outside of my control. It’s through the pain and grief that I’m pushed up close to the presence of God.

I HAVE LEARNED TO KISS THE WAVE THAT SLAMS ME INTO THE ROCK OF AGES

Suffering isn’t meant to knock us over; it’s meant to anchor us in. Pain takes us to a deeper place of healing, sending us to our very knees, where we can know the God of all comfort and the Prince of Peace in ways we never thought possible. Though we may often wish suffering away, God uses it to draw us near. 

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. (Hebrews 6:17-19a)

I’m learning to trust His purpose, not my plan.
I’m learning to find refuge in His love, not in trying to control my circumstance.
I’m learning to hunger for more of God, not for more of my own comfort or the comfort from others.
I’m learning to lean in, rather than pull back
I’m learning to hold fast to the hope set before me, in the midst of the storm.
I’m learning to anchor my soul to the Rock of Ages.

I’m learning to kiss the wave.

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.  (Proverbs 27:7).

*This post was originally published at SelfTalktheGospel.com. You can read more of my articles here.