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.

 

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Genesis: Part 2 {Week 1} The Call of Abraham

Go
Risk
Trust

These words encapsulate the life of Abraham (whose name God changed from Abram), the patriarch of our faith, the father of the nation of Israel.

The Lord called him to GO to a land that He would reveal as Abraham was going.

He asked him to risk all that he had—comfort, shelter, relationships—all that was known for the unknown. Yahweh asked him to trust that He had a plan, a place, a purpose, and a blessing for him.

Abraham responded with faith and obedience, struggle and confusion, courage and hope. Abraham did not wait for God to reveal every detail of the promise. Abraham did not wait to see before he would move. He did not wait to know before he would believe; he responded to the call by going.

Faith and action
Courage and confusion
Trust and obedience

God called him to “go,” and he went.

It was from Abraham’s first steps that we see the path to Christ today. His obedience was the beginning of a nation that would be set apart by God as something different, something holy, and something we as the church would be grafted into.

Abraham walked into the unknown by trusting God at His word. Let’s watch this week as we see the tension of both faith and fear play out in Abraham’s life.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/154122773″>Women's Midsize Week 2 – 02.02.2016</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What Is the Gospel?

“A test”
“A road map for how to live your life”
“The books about Jesus”
“The Cross and Jesus dying for our sins”

All of these are responses I’ve received when I’ve asked the question, “what is the Gospel?”

How would you answer that? What is the Gospel?

 

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Image Credit: Harold Lloyd, Creative Commons

I can remember people telling me all of my life that I was a sinner, telling me Jesus died for me, and if I wanted to go to Heaven I needed to believe in Him. And none of that ever made sense to me. First of all, I wasn’t a sinner, I was a good person. Sure I did some “bad stuff,” but a sinner?? That’s a little harsh. Secondly, Jesus died for me? What does that even mean?

All I really knew of Christianity was some of my “Christian” friends telling my very best Jewish friend she was going to Hell because she didn’t believe in Jesus, and I personally didn’t want any part in that. So I sided with my Jewish friend and went to synagogue with her in 7th & 8th grade. That’s right you guys, I was practically Jewish for 2 years.

Then I started going to Christian church with my high school boyfriend’s family, and I think became a Christian then? I don’t really know because once I was introduced to cigarettes and booze, I left all that behind and ran to the party scene. And that was where I lived, a little bit Jewish, a little bit Christian, believed in God, was a good person (during the week), and sort of knew about Jesus. Until my father passed away suddenly and I realized this little made-up belief, and idea of being a good person and in control of my own life came crashing down in front of me.

Shortly after my father passed away, I was confronted with all of this God stuff once again. I knew deep within my heart I wasn’t in control of my life, my time on Earth, and neither was anyone else. But how can I know God? How can I know there is just one God? And what about Jesus? Why is everyone always telling me about Jesus? And in complete humility and honesty, I looked at my now-husband and asked him about God. I asked him about why people called me a sinner, why people told me about Jesus and asked:

“What does His death have to do with my life?”

I needed to make sense of this life, my life, and Jesus’s life. Because if what people were telling me was true, then His life and death have implication on my life.

So what is the Gospel?

Gospel literally means good news. The good news that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live, and died the death we should have died.

In one word, the Gospel is . . . Jesus.

God created the world and everything in it (Gen. 1:1).
He set man on the earth, as His prize creation, and gave him a choice (Gen. 2:15-17).
Sin entered the world through the Deceiver, by tempting mankind to choose between trusting God at His word or eating the fruit of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7).

Sin is simply trying to find satisfaction outside of God. It’s selfishness. It’s choosing our own way over God and His kind of life.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit of disobedience, and we do the same to this very day (Rom. 3:10-18, 23). When we sin, we break relationship with God. Something must be done in order to be brought back into right standing with God (righteousness) and inherit eternal life. A perfect sacrifice, a satisfactory payment, a fulfillment to the Law (Rom. 3:22-24, Matt. 5:17) must be made to inherit eternal life.

Religion and humanistic thinking tells us we can do enough good so that God will be pleased with us.
God tells us there is one way He is pleased with us . . .
Believing in His son (Acts 16:31).

In order to be brought into right relationship with God, a perfect sacrifice, a sufficient payment, must be made for our ransom. Jesus Christ paid for our sins with His perfect life by dying on the Cross.

His death was the satisfactory payment for our sin (1 John 2:1).

But it doesn’t just stop there. His death and His resurrection bring us new life (2 Cor. 5:17). The Gospel is what Jesus did for us on the cross, but it’s also the promise of new life. The Gospel is walking in the power of the Resurrection and living out our new life (Gal. 2:20).

The Gospel is Jesus.
The Gospel is hope.
The Gospel is grace and mercy new every day.

God
Man
Sin
Jesus
New Life

THAT is the Gospel.

Reading & Reflection

1. Read Romans 8. What words or phrases do you see repeated in the first 16 verses?

2. What is the difference between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit?

3. Do you struggle to believe Romans 8:1? Do you truly believe you’ve been forgiven of sin and God sees you as righteous? Spend some time reading the last few verses of chapter 8 and reminding yourself of God’s love.

 

I’m so excited to announce that we will begin a study of the book of Philippians beginning on Monday! Will you consider joining us??
Sign up here if you want to read along with us the month of August.

Fulfill Your Calling

2 paths I can remember as a child nearly every day, coming home from school to play school. I would set up my imaginary classroom, with my imaginary students (like Joey who was always so naughty I had to discipline him every day), with my imaginary assignments like math tests and science lessons. My father once brought home a giant chalkboard his work was throwing out to give to me, and I lost my mind! You would’ve thought my dad brought me a pony or something. I remember my mother taking me to the teacher supply store, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t believe my eyes, there were workbooks, stickers, bulletin board cutouts, pencils, as far as the eye could see!

I was a little psycho kid, I know.

So you can only imagine how strongly I felt about my calling to become a teacher. I graduated and began teaching right away. I spent hours planning lessons, making my classroom a fun learning environment, thinking through how to teach reading to a room full of 5 year olds who barely knew how to zip up their own pants.

And guess what? I struggled. I struggled my first year, so I blamed it on being a new teacher. Then I struggled my second year, so I blamed it on the socio-economic status I was serving (very wealthy families). I decided to move and work at school that had a low socio-economic status, thinking that would be better. I was still struggling, so I switched schools and grade levels. And by my 5th year in, I started to realize that this dream wasn’t so dreamy.

I was having a particularly hard day once in my classroom, and after I had just quieted my class down, telling them I didn’t want to hear a peep, not even the tap of a pencil, for 10 minutes (because I was so frazzled), one of my students sneezed. I whipped my head around so fast, marched over to her desk, and in frustration and exhaustion, I told her “EMILY! YOU NEED TO SNEEZE QUIETER”. I was so worked up and burned out, I told a child to sneeze quieter. How do you even do that?!

As those words came out of my mouth, I knew something had to change. I knew that my lifelong dream, maybe even my *calling*, wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

I had gone from being a passionate educator, excited to plan and execute lessons and help children grow in their learning, to a cranky, uptight, tired, burnt out teacher. I felt like I was a square peg, in a round hole, trying to make something fit that just wouldn’t.

And I grieved. Everything on paper told me I was born to be a teacher. Yet, when I did it, I knew it wasn’t for me. Here I am, 8 years later, wrapping up my career as a teacher to discover my “calling”.

A couple of months ago, I was talking to some 9 year olds about the true meaning of Lent/Easter. They said Lent is “when you give up things for God, and if you mess up or eat the candy you shouldn’t, God will punish you. That’s what Easter’s all about”. And after they shared their meaning of Easter, I grinned because I was about to share mine, the Gospel. I shared about the God I knew that took the punishment for us, even when we mess up and eat that candy we promised we wouldn’t. I shared about the God who was in the garden and the God who was on the Cross. And as I was talking to them about this, one of the kids interrupted me and said “You know what, you should be one of those people that teaches stories about “la biblia” (the bible).

In just a few words this nine year old spoke into my fear and uncertainty about my calling, and pegged me. He knew what I was good at and born to do, because I was doing it right there in front of him. Teaching and telling stories about la biblia.

That’s when I realized maybe it isn’t so much about calling, as it is about using your gifts. I was born to be a teacher, but I started to realize it may not be in the classroom. I was chasing after a career more than I was being faithful in using my God given gifts and talents.

I realized that my “calling” was still the same, it was just in a different environment. The way God has made me didn’t change. The gifts he had given me didn’t change. The place and the way in which I was using them did.

I have no exact place or title or plan for this, but as I walk away from this career of teaching, I know my calling is to be a teacher. Whether it is sharing stories about la biblia with friends, my small group, women in my church, neighbors, family, one-on-one over coffee, through writing, whatever it may be, I’m a teacher. I’m just not so worried with the where and the how anymore.

My calling has become less about a career and more about faithfulness.
My calling is to go and make disciples.
My calling is to “proclaim the excellencies of Him”.
My calling is to share my testimony and my stories.
My calling is to steward and invest my gifts.
My calling is to love and serve my husband, my friends, family, and neighbors.
My calling is to trust and obey God.
My calling is to hold my life with open hands and say “whatever you want for me LORD, whatever you want from me.”

I’ve learned through this experience to hold calling with an open hand. I’ve learned the better questions to ask is not “what’s my calling”, but “am I using my gifts, and faithfully stewarding them?”

That won’t always have a name, or a place, a title, or a paycheck.

Maybe calling is just faithfulness, obedience, meeting needs, and running with passion more than it is about finding the right career.

Calling is just doing the work God has for you.

And there are a million different ways to fulfill that kind of calling.

Here are some other brilliant people and their different thoughts on calling:

Jeff Goins on Calling

Karen Yates on Calling

Shauna Niequist on Calling & Passion