Category: Worship

Choosing Worship Songs & Sets Wisely…It Matters

I recently found an talk done by Bob Kauflin and it affected me as a worship leader. I think it’s so important, that I want to share it here.  It’s a 2 part audio/MP3 download and you can download it here

Choosing Songs Wisely Part 1

Choosing Songs Wisely Part 2

by Bob Kauflin
Why do the songs we sing matter? How are we to go about choosing songs for corporate worship?

Songs teach. Gordon Fee said, “Show me a church’s songs, and I’ll show you their theology.” Lack of discernment in the choice of songs affects the church’s direction.

Bob Kauflin uses this session to discuss how the songs we sing should be evaluated by Scriptural accuracy first, then by accessibility, freshness, and style, among other considerations. Bob offers direction in choosing songs for Sunday, planning out your church’s “song diet,” and resources for doctrinally-accurate, sing-able songs.

This session was delivered at the 2004 Worship God Conference.

© 2004 Sovereign Grace Ministries

Open Your Heart To the Love of God

Open your heart to the love of God“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
–William Temple

I try really hard to not OVERUSE the statement I’m about to make.  I try to not HYPE anything that I feel God is doing or might do and if I’ve ever fell victim to that, then I publicly as God to forgive me, but…

I believe that God wants to do way more than we as Christians are asking from Him and He is going to do some amazing things in the near future.  As I’ve been praying about it, I truly have faith for us to see God in new and fresh ways very soon.

Please do me a favor.  I’m going to ask you to consider doing some stuff and pray about some things below.  I guess all I’m asking is to consider what would, what could, what MIGHT happen if all of us who have laid down our lives to ENJOY making Jesus the all consuming passion of their lives EXPECTED, ANTICIPATED and PRAYED for God to move in mighty ways.  Just consider it.

OK, here we go…

  1. Pray…Seriously Pray. Make a quiet block of 5 to 15 minutes out of your schedule today and for the next week and daily pray about your next worship gathering.  In other words, and I’m going to be bold here, don’t do what I’ve done for so many years which is to intend to pray about something and then not, or just as bad, pray about it without fully expecting what you’re asking for to come to pass.  Let’s pray for opportunities to heal people, let’s pray for opportunities to get prophetic words to uplift the body, let’s pray for teaching to reach deep into peoples hearts and boldly guide them into living with more Holy Spirit power in their lives, let’s pray for our own lives and walks with Christ to be pushed to the next level and that as leaders of the church (if you’re actively praying like I’m suggesting you’re a spiritual leader in your church even if you don’t have the earthly title) that we would be in prayer for more of God in the church and event.  Let’s pray for all these things…and then expect God to act on them.  More on expectancy in a separate post…this one was getting kind of long.
  2. Live & Die On Scripture…All Of It. Words without faith and action is incomplete.  We all need our faith to be increased (I’m speaking to myself too) so we can be more effective at both winning souls to Christ, walking out our faith daily doing all He has planned for us, and living with increased Holy Spirit power!  I would propose to you that there is a point at which things we read in the bible stretch our faith to or even past the breaking point.  At what point do we struggle to believe anymore…Prophetic words?  Supernatural discernment of spirits?  Tongues?  Healing (the blind, lame, deaf, mute, dying and sick)?  Buildings shaking with the overwhelming presence of God?  People being raised from the dead (just lost a lot of you right there didn’t I)?  I believe faith starts with a decision. Let’s decide that nothing in that book is out of reach.  Let’s decide that when Jesus himself said in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these,…“ that He really meant even greater things.  Where’s your breaking point for your faith and will you decide to stretch it farther?  If so, go to BibleGateway’s topical search tool and type “raised from the dead” or some other topic that stretches your faith or go here.  Then pray that God would increase your faith in His perfect way and time.
  3. Get Fired Up! If you wanna see God doing some cool stuff, and you should want to, check out these videos with John Wimber doing a Holy Spirit – Signs & Wonders conference in 1985.  There are 4 videos and they show God doing some amazing stuff both with prophetic words and also with healing.  Also, he’s using this as a teaching tool that I think will be beneficial for us all as we step out in faith at our churches.

    Listen in the above video as he talks about how we have westernized and secularized the church. He says that we’ve almost eliminated the supernatural from our perceptions and that we’ve come to a place we don’t anticipate God to operate as God among us. Where we think that study is an end in itself. But word without actions is incomplete. Hearing without doing is incomplete. We need the word and the works. To say that we believe the Bible in it’s entirety and then not operate as such in faith with great anticipation on what the Holy Spirit is going to do among us is incomplete.

The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is

Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God.

We are all bent to believe that we are central in the universe. How shall we be cured of this joy-destroying disease? Perhaps by hearing afresh how radically God-centered reality is according to the Bible.

Both the Old and New Testament tell us that God’s loving us is a means to our glorifying him. “Christ became a servant … in order that the nations might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9). God has been merciful to us so that we would magnify him. We see it again in the words, “In love [God] destined us to adoption … to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). In other words, the goal of God’s loving us is that we might praise him. One more illustration from Psalm 86:12-13: “I will glorify your name forever. For your lovingkindness toward me is great.” God’s love is the ground. His glory is the goal.

This is shocking. The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

Take the cross of Christ, for example. The death of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of divine love: “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Yet the Bible also says that the aim of the death of Christ was “to demonstrate [God’s] righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25). Passing over sins creates a huge problem for the righteousness of God. It makes him look like a judge who lets criminals go free without punishment. In other words, the mercy of God puts the justice of God in jeopardy.

So to vindicate his justice he does the unthinkable – he puts his Son to death as the substitute penalty for our sins. The cross makes it plain to everyone that God does not sweep evil under the rug of the universe. He punishes it in Jesus for those who believe.

But notice that this ultimately loving act has at the center of it the vindication of the righteousness of God. Good Friday love is God-glorifying love. God exalts God at the cross. If he didn’t, he could not be just and rescue us from sin. But it is a mistake to say, “Well, if the aim was to rescue us, then we were the ultimate goal of the cross.” No, we were rescued from sin in order that we might see and savor the glory of God. This is the ultimately loving aim of Christ’s death. He did not die to make much of us, but to free us to enjoy making much of God forever.

It is profoundly wrong to turn the cross into a proof that self-esteem is the root of mental health. If I stand before the love of God and do not feel a healthy, satisfying, freeing joy unless I turn that love into an echo of my self-esteem, then I am like a man who stands before the Grand Canyon and feels no satisfying wonder until he translates the canyon into a case for his own significance. That is not the presence of mental health, but bondage to self.

The cure for this bondage is to see that God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act. In exalting himself – Grand Canyon-like – he gets the glory and we get the joy. The greatest news in all the world is that there is no final conflict between my passion for joy and God’s passion for his glory. The knot that ties these together is the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive the treason of our souls, which have turned from savoring God to savoring self. In the cross of Christ, God rescues us from the house of mirrors and leads us out to the mountains and canyons of his majesty. Nothing satisfies us – or magnifies him – more.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Originally published in Dallas Morning News.

How To Worship God – What Is God Worth To You?

How To Worship - Making Worship A Way Of Life

Making Worship A Way Of Life

In my post last week entitled How To Live For God – 6 Practical Suggestions that Will Change Your Life, we looked at how God transforms us through living a disciplined life.  We saw that the spiritual disciplines put us in the perfect place for God to transform our lives.

I do have a confession to make though…I did have some ulterior motives by picking the topic of self discipline to write about.

You see I’m not so naturally inclined to be disciplined.  Maybe most are, but I’m certainly not unfortunately.  So writing about the topic helped me to study and motivate myself toward a higher level of disciplined living.  I would LOVE to be known for being disciplined but in reality, not so much!

But as Yoda would way, “a worshiper I am”!

Seriously though I don’t want to sound hoity toity or somehow spiritually exalted, in fact, I didn’t ask for it, it literally found me.

Here’s how it unfolded.

In early 1999 I was a professed Christian, but very much a baby spiritually speaking.  I was a jerk to those who loved me, my marriage was in trouble and I didn’t even know it, I was broke and going deeper into debt month after month…in short, I was a mess.

Then I find out that we’re gonna have a baby.  For those parents out there, you can attest to the fact that there is no way to describe the depth to which that changes your life.  So through that and some God incidences with a co-worker suggesting we attend a Vineyard church and then seeing a billboard for the same church that said “Vineyard – the church for people who didn’t think they liked church”, I started attending Vineyard Columbus off and on…but way more off than on!

I loved the church almost immediately; rock band on stage, assistant pastor had a pony tale down the middle of his back and everyone wore jeans.  What’s not to like right?

But during the worship there were these people who I now know were truly entering the throne room of worship that were worshipping with reckless abandon. I was not familiar with this and started to make fun of authentic, sold out worshipers; even calling them names and laughing at them to my wife and friends.

Less than 6 months later I found myself wanting what they had…that connection with the Father, more deeply within me than I’ve ever wanted anything before.  I was certainly no longer making fun of them!  I wanted what they had. After we had our baby, we moved from the west side of Columbus (Dublin) to the east side (Pickerington) and started looking for a church.  Someone told me about Eastside Vineyard and we attended in it’s 2nd week in existence.

That’s when it happened…

God grabbed me (and after slapping me around a bit for making fun of worshipers), told me that He wanted me up there leading his people into worship.  Now you have to understand this was all new for me.  Music no, but worship…that was completely new ground. So for the next 4 years I grew under great earthly leadership and of course God’s leadership; and let me tell ya something, God completely transformed me!

Today I lead a worship team at the church we helped to plant in Pataskala, OH called Vineyard Christian Church of Pataskala and God is transforming me… again and still! So why is that story important? Because it’s a picture of how God wooed me to Himself, loved me, and through that love and friendship changed me.  I am a totally different person now and all in good ways. I am blessed with a healthy vibrant marriage and an almost continual awareness of God’s presence. He’s continually teaching me how to be a better

  • husband,
  • child of God,
  • father
  • and friend.

God is looking for authentic worshipers and wants to offer deep, intimate friendship with them and I simply took Him up on His offer.  And when you do take Him up on His offer and give yourself over completely to genuine, authentic worship, God unlocks the door to an incredibly deep relationship and friendship with Him.

Romans 12: 1,2 says this:

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Why We Worship

First let’s look at why we worship.  In verse 1 Paul urges us to look at God’s mercy. So what is the definition of mercy?  Webster’s says mercy is a disposition to be kind and forgiving.  So this literally means it’s how He’s wired.  Gods’ natural inclination, His default state if you will is to be merciful.  It’s literally the lens through which He sees us.  And that my friend is a good thing! This kind of mercy is completely foreign to us. We are just not wired this way.  But I can hear you say, “Jason sometimes I’m merciful though”.  PLE-ASE!  Let’s not kid ourselves here…at our absolute best (times 100) we don’t even compare to God’s mercy.

Where God loves, we judge.

You say well I don’t judge people…oh really? Need proof?  Consider first impressions. First impressions are so important to us; we always want to make a positive first impression on others and unconsciously make them about others all the time. But what do they really help us do?  Judge others…and not only that, but judge them on all the wrong things!  They say “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Impression of what?  What is it we’re judging about others? Here is a short list:

  • character
  • personality
  • competence
  • integrity
  • aggressiveness
  • and overall likeability

So how long does this take?  60 seconds? 30 seconds? 7 seconds?  How about the blink of an eye!  New research tells us that first impressions or judgments are made within as little as 1/10th of a second!

I was reading an article on PsychologicalScience.org about first impressions and it said the following: “A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second (or 100 milliseconds) to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments).” The article goes on to say, “Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life.”

Why Is This True?

Those Princeton psychologists have a theory as to why: “…based on evolutionary psychology, that an accelerated and accurate ability to judge trustworthiness in others may have evolved as an important survival mechanism”

A survival mechanism…really?  C’mon let’s be real here!

It’s our flesh in action.  All our prejudices and stereotypes, past experiences (usually negative first), and sinful desires cause this to happen.  God’s mercy allows Him to see past the judgment He could have about or on us and see what and who we really are.  And get this…after He searches us, examines us and sees what and who we really are He loves us anyway…despite it!

Now I don’t know about you, but I know me.  And why He takes pleasure in me and spending time with me and is merciful to me is a mystery, but I’m glad He does.  There are countless other things we could say about God’s mercy, but suffice it to say this.  This is truly a different kind of Mercy!

Worship is the only natural response to this mercy.

Ok, so let’s define worship. Worship:  [comes from old English weorthscipe or worth-ship] to ascribe, assign, attribute, declare worth. Before you can declare God’s worth, you need to discover God’s worth In his book The Way of A Worshiper, Buddy Owens asks this brutal question that I believe we should all ask ourselves “What is God worth to you”? Then Owens says “To the extent that you can answer that question, you will be a worshiper”.

What Are We Worth To God

I agree.  Discovering God’s worth is a lifelong journey and should begin with learning how much we are worth to Him because as 1 John 4:19 tells us “We love Him because He first loved us”.

So how do we discover how much we’re worth to Him?  Try to see yourself as God sees you.  See yourself “in view of God’s mercy”.  As we are able to look at ourselves through God’s eyes we begin to see that:

  • God seeks you out (Genesis 3: 7-10)
  • You are JUST what He’s looking for (Matthew 13:45)
  • You are his most precious possession (Luke 15:3-10); don’t believe it yet? 3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4″Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I don’t know about you, but when I read these things it makes me want to say just two simple words to God; THANK YOU! Those two words are where authentic worship begins.

So now that we have a tiny view of God’s mercy, and we know that the natural response to it is worship, shouldn’t we changed and transformed as a result? Let’s look at verse the rest of verse 1 and part of 2. “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Offer up your bodies sacrificially…why do you think God wants our bodies? I believe there are two main reasons.  First, put simply, your body is God’s house.  Isaak Walton once said “God has two dwellings: one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart”. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

How do you honor God with your body? Fulfill God’s purpose for your life – reach the world for Christ.  It is through your body that God reaches the world around you. We each have our own sphere of influence – people that only we can reach for Christ.  So we see that God accomplishes His purpose for your life through your body. Second, what we subject our bodies to affects our character and our character affects our walk.  Your character will be defined by what you worship.

You might ask, why did you assume I was worshiping anything?  You will worship something…it’s how you’re wired…we were literally born to worship. The question is what will you worship?

Some people worship money and they then become greedy in their character.  Those who worship power become ruthlessMen who worship women become lustful and people who worship themselves become arrogant.  But, those who worship the living God become more Christ-like.

The Result – Encountering God

Look at the end of verse 2 with me again.  “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. If I only knew God’s will for my life I’d do it.  Have you said or felt this?

Every Christian should sincerely desire to know the will of God for their lives Not just at a high level either, but in the details of day to day, moment by moment living.  To wake up asking God for opportunities to heal, bless, and breathe life into others.  To go through your day expecting Him to take you up on your request and waiting for the opportunities you asked for to come. And what Paul is saying is that if you worship Him by offering your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, then you will know His will. In other word He will speak to you and you will listen and hear Him.  So how does God speak?

How God Speaks

Scriptures Wise council from other Christians Divine guidance or care through circumstances or life events Opportunities and blessings Closed doors The still small voice of His Spirit speaking to and through our conscience Nature and his creation Even your children

How To Listen

The first thing you should do is to redefine the word listen as it pertains to God. As you can see from the above list, few of them involve the physical sense of hearing through some audible way.  I think Christians mistakenly think or feel that God is going to always come in a loud thunderous voice that shakes the foundations of the earth every single time he speaks. Sometimes He does, but other times I think He’s asking us to press in closer to hear HimHe blesses us with whispering because it causes us to seek Him harder and longer. Listening in this way starts with caring.

How much do you contemplate the things of God?
How often do you find yourself thinking about His greatness?
How often are you thankful for the blessings He’s given you?

The more often you care about Him, thank Him for what He’s done for you, and contemplate Him, the more often you’ll hear him speak to you through the above list and even other ways for sure.

Worship Is A Lifestyle – Pursue It!

Worship is so much more than some songs that we sing before the preacher preaches. Worship is a lifestyle…it’s a host of characteristics and traits and actions all wrapped up into one concept that we call worship including: repentance, obedience, love, compassion and grace just to name a few. Brother Lawrence described it this way over 300 years ago in The Practice of the Presence of God. He says: “I keep myself in his presence by simple attentiveness and a loving gaze upon God – or to put it more clearly, an habitual, silent and secret conversation of my soul with God.” Buddy Owens sums it up perfectly this way: “That is… the secret to friendship with God.  Are you looking for God?  God is looking for worshipers.  His invitation to friendship is open and genuine.  Will you take him up on his offer?  Will you give yourself to him in worship?”

How To Keep Christ In Christmas & Joy In Your Life

Keep Christ In ChristmasA daycare teacher in Stone Mountain, GA was reading the story of Jesus’ birth to her children one morning. As usual, she stopped to see if they understood.
“What do we call the three wise men?” she asked.
“The three maggots,” replied one bright 5-year-old.
“What gift did the Magi bring baby Jesus?” she corrected.
“Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!” the same 5-year-old replied.

Well, that little girl may have been a tad bit off in her understanding of the Christmas story…but let me ask you a question.

What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas? We’re talking “first thing that comes to your mind” type of thing.

For many it might be the modern customs of Christmas that include gift-giving, Christmas carols, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations like this one, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, and garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly.  In addition, many of our brains instantly conjure up images of that jolly old fat man in the red suit known by millions as Santa Claus.

But let me ask you this (and answer truthfully cause GOD knows if you’ve been bad or good)!  When I said the word Christmas, did any of your minds instantly think of worship?  I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I’m guessing most of you didn’t.

The word Christmas originated as a compound word meaning “Christ’s Mass”.  So as not to assume anything, let’s look at some definitions shall we?

Mass refers to celebration or adoration of God.  Adoration means an act of worship or profound love or regard.  And profound means “coming as if coming from the depths of one’s being” and also penetrating beyond what is superficial or obvious”.

So let’s look at Christmas in it’s literal meaning.  Based on the above meanings, the Koeppe abridged dictionary defines Christmas as a time when we should “celebrate and worship Christ by showing him love that comes from the depths of our soul or being and penetrates beyond what is superficial and obvious”.

How’s that for a definition of Christmas?  Does Christmas have any different meaning to you now?

As I asked God what I could leave you with in this post that might be lasting and meaningful, some of you may not be surprised that His response was to talk to you about authentic worship.

After all, what was the FIRST thing the Magi did after their long journey to find Jesus?  The worshiped Him.

Then they gave baby Jesus the Frankensteins and Smurfs!

But seriously, the Bible says that they saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and “fell down and worshiped Him”.

We’ve all heard the well-meaning phrases that remind us where to focus our energy and attention during this season like “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “keep Christ in Christmas”.  These are great, simple reminders of what we ought to be doing during the Christmas season.  But after the guilt subsides, have you ever stopped and asked yourself HOW do we do this?

No doubt you’ve also heard some of the attempts at putting action to these ideas, such as:

  • donating toys as a family,
  • helping serve in a soup kitchen,
  • singing carols in a nursing home or
  • just reading the Christmas story from the bible in your home on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.

All of these are great suggestions but they all have one thing in common; they are all expressions of worship.

You see worship, as many of you know is much more than just the singing in church that happens before the message.  As many of you have heard me say several times, worship is a response to the love that God first showed us.  All of the above examples, when done in the right spirit are examples of God’s people worshiping Him.

So instead of JUST giving you more examples of things to DO during the Christmas season (although I will try to do that), I thought I’d share with you a passage of scripture that lays out a detailed blueprint of HOW to keep Christ in Christmas.  It’s a blueprint of how to worship God.  And as we see how to worship the Lord more authentically, I hope you’ll see that genuine worship is the only real way to keep Christ in Christmas and joy in your life!

Psalm 105 can be one of those passages that you read over quickly as I have done in the past and in doing so, miss most of the gold nuggets buried deep within it.

I don’t have nearly enough time to fully dig into and pull out all that you can from these simple, yet profound verses, so I encourage you to study these verses with a dictionary handy and really THINK about and meditate on their meaning in your quiet times with the Lord.  But I can at least get us started in the right direction here in this post.

So here we go:

Now there are a lot of verbs in this passage, so read it out loud if you’re able to right now.  If not, just read it silently and emphasize the verbs.  I’ve added emphasis on the verbs to make it easier for you, OK?  Here we go:

PSALM 105:1-5
1 GIVE THANKS to the LORD, CALL ON his name; MAKE KNOWN among the nations what he has done.
2 SING to him, SING PRAISE to him; TELL of all his wonderful acts.
3 GLORY in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD REJOICE.
4 LOOK to the LORD and his strength; SEEK his face always.
5 REMEMBER the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

Give Thanks

So let’s start with GIVE THANKS

Worship starts by saying “thank you” and so should Christmas.  Psalm 100:4   4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  As you thank God you begin to recognize who God is, not only in your life, but in all of Creation.

Thank Him for:

  1. Sending Jesus to be born into that lowly manger and stepping down from the light of heaven into the darkness of this world
  2. For humbly coming to the earth He created and becoming poor for love’s sake
  3. For paying the price we couldn’t pay by sending His perfect and only Son to die on that cross and loving us while we were still sinners
  4. For His mercy; for being naturally inclined or disposed toward mercy as we’re concerned.  For knowing us intimately and loving us anyway.
  5. For all the things He’s kept from you or kept you from.  Have you ever stopped to think about all the accidents and tragedy that He has kept from your life that you never even knew about?  In light of that, we ought to at least thank Him for the ones we DO know about!
  6. The list goes on and on…

ACTION STEPSThere’s a reason Thanksgiving comes before Christmas!  So the action step here is to:

  • Spend the month between the two holidays thanking God each and every day for something He’s done for you, to you, through you, in your life or in the life of others.

Call On His Name

Next we are to CALL ON HIS NAME.  What does it mean here to call on His name.  I found out it literally means to call forth; summon Him into your situation; call to mind by naming.  His name tells me who He is; his actions tell us what His character is and that reveals His name.  For example, God is a:

  1. Provider – you provided and now I call on you to provide for me
  2. Savior – you saved me and now I call on you now to save me
  3. Healer – physical, emotional and spiritual healing
  4. Comforter – peace that surpasses understanding

ACTION STEPS

  • So during Christmas (and really every day of your life but especially at Christmas get togethers and events) make sure you summon Him or call Him forth into your gathering, event or situation.
  • Bring Him into your family as you celebrate Christmas with all those traditions we spoke about.
  • Summon God into your family room when you put the tree up as a family (and don’t be a dork like me and let work or busyness keep you from doing this as a family…enough said on that one)
  • Call on His name as you gather with family for a special meal
  • Call Him forth as you read the Christmas story from the bible on Christmas morning BEFORE opening presents

MAKE KNOWN among the nations

Finishing up verse 1 it says to MAKE KNOWN among the nations what He has done.  This is simply your testimony; tell people what God has done for you.  And who should we be telling?  The nations, in other words this is not in the church, but the unsaved, the world, the nations.  I LOVE what 1 Peter 3:15 says…

1 Peter 3:15
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
ACTION STEPS
Keeping Christ in Christmas is a heart thing.  It’s an attitude of the heart.  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Then it says ALWAYS be prepared to tell your story.  You can do this as you take some of the actions we mentioned before such as:

  • donating toys,
  • serving in the soup kitchen or
  • singing carols to the sick,

But you can also do this in your every day life.  Pray for more opportunities daily to share your hope, your story, your good news to someone who doesn’t know Christ!

SING to Him, SING PRAISE to Him

Verse 2 starts by telling us to SING to him, SING PRAISE to him;

Remember how I said to call on his name earlier meant to summon or call forth?  The word sing here means to sing forth; to send His praises into your situation.

There’s something powerful about singing into your situation that sends a weapon – think of it like an arrow or a bullet – directly into your situation and the just destroys the enemy.  I’m telling ya Satan hates this…

There are many examples we could give here, but when the people of Israel were facing a vast and overwhelming army, they sent the choir ahead of the army.  In 2 Chronicles 20 it says:

2 Chronicles 20
“the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” 22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies… to start fighting among themselves.”

The people never had to fight; enemy turned on themselves “at the very moment” they started to sing.

ACTION STEPS
So application here is easy. As those old familiar Christmas carols start popping up on your radio stations and in stores,

  • sing into your darkness,
  • sing into your sadness,
  • sing into your blessings
  • sing into your family
  • sing into your Christmas

NOTE: As a special note to anyone who might be suffering adversity during the holidays or has some painful memories that surface during this time of year, let me encourage you with this; praising God in times of adversity or great sadness makes the serpent swallow itself. You want to heap destruction and devastation on the enemy?

Praise God when you’re hurting.
Praise God when your sad.
Praise God when you’re at your lowest.
Praise God when you aren’t quite sure if you can take that next breath…take it and sing! God will give you another one.

Verse 2 ends by encouraging us to:

TELL of His wonderful acts

The word “tell” here means to talk with deep pondering.  Not just light conversation.  This is the kind of talk you have around the table with friends and family, or on long walks.

ACTION STEPS

  • Make it a part of your regular conversation
  • Write the word of God on the tablet of your heart and tell people of His amazing acts from the bible.
  • As you tell of His wonderful acts, it builds your faith and faith of those who hear it

Then look at verse 3 and how this next phrase starts…

GLORY in his holy name

What does it mean to glory in the lord?  I often read over “religious” sounding terms in the bible that I think I know the meaning of and then realize when I slow down that I have no idea what the true meaning of a passage is until I slow down and ask good questions. So what does it mean?

It means to boast; to boast in the name of the Lord.  Let your worth be found in who He is and who you are in Him.  Let’s look at what it says about this in Jeremiah 9.

Jeremiah 9:23, 24

23 Thus says the LORD: “ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

ACTION STEPS
So this Christmas when you’re boasting, make sure to always glory in the name of the Lord.  Real quick, let’s look at some names of the Lord.  You may have heard these, but I just want to give you an idea of their meanings.

  • Elohim – Creator (He is what all of nature is trying to describe), Ruler (King of Kings), Absolute force (all powerful), Sovereign – Ephesians 2:10
  • El Shaddai – The Almighty Provider – Psalm 77:15, Psalm 68:35
  • Adonai – Lord, Master – Psalm 123:2
  • Jehovah – God of Justice, Holiness and Love

LOOK to the Lord

Next we’re called to look to the Lord.  I love how Buddy Owens puts it in his book The Way Of A Worshiper, “Set the gaze of your soul on your saving God”.

We look at His strength; through him we can accomplish all things.

ACTION STEPS
Look on His strength not your own this Christmas.  Through Him you can endure tests and resist temptation.

  • Gaze upon God; think about the manger scene as you’ve seen it hundreds of times before, but add the human dimension…these are real people.  Now make it personal…place yourself in the scene.  If you’re a man, imagine yourself as Joseph or one of the Magi, if you’re a woman imagine being Mary and all that she had been through over the last 10 months.
  • Gaze upon God’s strength for help Enduring (tests, trials, persecution and hardship)
  • Gaze upon God’s strength for help Resisting tempation (to boast in what you have, spend too much)
  • Set the gaze of your soul on the saving God for all you need or lack this Christmas who sent his son to be born into this world for the sole purpose of paying the price we couldn’t pay

There is a big difference between looking at something and seeking after it as we see with the next phrase…

SEEK his face

So what’s it mean to seek.  Seek His face; seek His favor;

It means to pursue it, to go after it, to try to locate or discover; search for; to endeavor to obtain or reach; to go to or toward; to inquire for; to request.

ACTION STEPS

  • Don’t be satisfied with where you are with your relationship with Christ.  Ask him to enrich it and strengthen it this Christmas.
  • If you don’t know Christ as your savior receive the best gift anyone could ever give you, the gift of salvation.  It’s a free gift and it’s an amazing gift, but you have to seek after it.

REMEMBER the wonders he has done…

And finally the last verb in the passage calls us to remember the wonders he has done…his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. This goes back to where we started by making known the things he has done and telling of his wonderful acts.  Remember the miracles He has done and the judgments He pronounced.

Psalm 78 speaks to the power and importance of remembering and not forgetting in many places and starts by saying:

Psalm 78:3-7
3 I will utter hidden things, things from of old- what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
5
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,

6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

ACTION STEPS

  • If you have kids, make sure to spend time this Christmas telling them of some of the amazing things God has done in your life and the lives of people you’ve known.
  • Also tell your family and friends of these things.
  • Remember this Christmas and don’t be like the men of Ephraim who forgot what he had done (Psalm 78 9-68).

Christmas.  What a wonderful time of year it truly is. It is a time when we should “celebrate and worship Christ by showing him love that comes from the depths of our soul or being and penetrates beyond what is superficial and obvious”.

It is a time filled with wonderful traditions and customs that bring families together and lift spirits.

But I pray that God shows each of us how to merge spirit and truth, authentic worship of Him into our Christmas this year and for all the years to come.

I pray that He will show you how he wants YOU to put it into action and that the things we’ve discussed here tonight are just the sparks that ignite your hearing from Him how He wants you to put it into action.

Most of all I pray that as you look for and seek Him that you find more of God in every day of your life…and what better time to start that seeking journey than Christmas 2009.

How To Find God, But Are You Looking?

The Way Of A Worshiper by Buddy Owens

The Way Of A Worshiper by Buddy Owens

Are You Looking For God?

That is the first line of a book I just read entitledThe Way of a Worshiper by Buddy Owens.  It’s a question that I would propose most born again, bible believing Christians would answer instinctively and adamantly, YES!  And as Buddy Owens points out, the pursuit of God has been going on since the day you were born and lasts a lifetime, that’s for sure.

But the real question is this…

Are you the hunter or the prey?

The Danger of Making This Blog

I am not an extraordinary Christian or person.

The danger in producing a blog with the theme of “helping you…” do anything is that you’ll think that I’m writing from a place of having “arrived” to where you desire to go spiritually – that I’m something special and you’re not where God is concerned; or worse yet that it will sound like I BELIEVE that I’ve arrived.

But knowing that neither is true I’m willing to take this risk.

The truth is, I haven’t “arrived” anywhere that God Himself didn’t want me to go nor have you.  We are all on a journey and it’s that journey and process where we find Him.  Not at destinations or merely certain points along the way.

And that, in essence, is precisely why I’m creating this blog/site.

I believe that a lot of well meaning, good hearted, even passionate Christians might feel disconnected from God – like He’s turned His back on them.  Or maybe they feel connected to Him, yet wonder where the power to “do even greater things than these” has gone.

John 14: 12
When Jesus tells the disciples that anyone who has faith in Him will do all that he has done and even more

The truth is, God NEVER turns His back on anyone.  In fact, that pursuit of a lifetime I mentioned in the first paragraph begins with Him pursuing us…relentlessly.  We’ll sense the presence and manifestation of God to the degree that WE show up, not to the degree that He shows up in our life.  Said another way, the Lord shows up…even when we don’t.  And that is good news, cause we can choose or decide to show up or not to…it’s up to us.

There’s a video that illustrates and models this in such a simple and powerful way that I can’t begin to tell you how it affects me every single time I watch it.

Pay special attention to the character representing God at around the 1:36 point in the video.

Want some more good news? 

He takes great pleasure in you, me, us being present with Him.  Now like Buddy Owens says in his book, I know me.  Why God would take pleasure in me is hard to fathom, but He does.  In spite of you and in spite of me and in spite of all that we are and are not without Him, He takes pleasure in us and I thank God for that fact.

Psalm 147:11
The LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 25:14
The friendship of God is with those who fear him

And if that wasn’t enough good news to blow your mind, then try this on for size.  You can live in God’s pleasure, having nearly continual dialog with the Holy Spirit indwelling you and experiencing His power in your life.  God doesn’t play favorites when it comes to His children.  It’s the ultimate in equality…we all have access to the same Father, the same Kingdom, the same friendship.

So what do we do with this information?

I am making a commitment in my own life to press into what God has for me and daily seek Him and walk with Him and dialog with the Holy Spirit and learn about the power through the spiritual gifts that I have access to to “do even greater things than these”.  I am doing this for many reasons not the least of which is my deep realization of my need for Him and friendship with Him on a much deeper level than I have now. I am also attending a home group bible study that is centered around the spiritual gifts.  With all of this I am anticipating, trusting and expecting that as I show up more, God will reveal more of Himself to me and thereby transforming me by the renewing of my mind

Romans 12:1-2
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is my sincere hope that as He does and I remain faithful to record it here, He will use it to bless, encourage and build up others.  In addition, I don’t want to miss anything and so I want to leave a record of what He chooses to do.

So this is Day 1.

What = To be transformed to the likeness of Christ.  To become an unstoppable force for the Kingdom of the Lord.

Why = It’s our reason for existing.  Read this post for the why.

How = By presenting my body as a living sacrifice, by not conforming to the patterns of the world any longer by claiming I don’t have time to press in, by being transformed by renewing my mind, …in essence I’m going to show up.

So back to my initial question…are you looking for God?  Buddy Owens closes out the first chapter of his book by saying this…

“Jesus said in John 4:23 that the Father is looking for worshipers.  So if you’re looking for God and just can’t seem to find Him, stop what you’re doing and worship Him – and he will come find you.”

Let’s find God together by sharing our experiences on this blog and become an unstoppable force for the Kingdom together!