Thinking about… worship

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.

It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness;

the nourishment of mind with His truth;

the purifying of imagination by His beauty;

the opening of the heart to His love;

the surrender of will to His purpose and all this gathered up in adoration,

the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and,

therefore, the chief remedy for that self-centeredness,

which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”

 William Temple

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At the heart of worship is surrender.

I am so excited that I wish I could shout this from my rooftop:  I have an Internet connection!!!  Imagine this: since July, I haven’t had access to this blog, email, my school’s website with our classes’ websites, guitar music, iTunes music store, etc.  For some, this may not sound that monumental, but for a 2o year old in this day and age, that’s huge!  With this small victory, I write to you from the comfort of my couch with a cup of coffee in my hand and a great story of worship on my heart…

.hillsong live.

This past Monday night, I lost myself in a night of worship.  The Hillsong- New York City’s pastor cried out, “Don’t leave this place the same way as you were when you walked in here tonight!” And I didn’t…

———-

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:

take your everyday, ordinary life

–your sleeping, your eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–

and place it before God as an offering…

Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

Romans 12:1-2 (the Message)

———-

What is true worship?

It is this…

…surrendering to God.

Some may be reading now and say, “Oh, but I’m not one of those enthusiastic believers that breaks out into dance, waves my hands in the air, etc.”  And honestly, I haven’t been.  I lacked courage to raise my hand even above my heart as if doing the pledge of allegiance.

But we have so much more to offer God than a pledge of allegiance.

While standing at the foot of the stage, I listened to songs like “With Us” and felt the words sinking into even the deepest places of my heart… “There’s no end to your love.  There’s no end to your love,” they sang, “You’re with us.  You’re with us.”  With closed eyes, I relished the sweetness of those words, the truth of them even sweeter than last week’s Thanksgiving dessert.  “…There’s nothing in this world/ That could take you away/ You’re with us/ You’re with us…”  In that moment, I drew near to God, and just as James promised in James 4:8, God drew near me.

What I learned Monday night is this: worship isn’t just listening to Christian radio in the car, nor is it just going to church and enjoying the solo during the offertory.  Worship–true worship of the Father and Creator of this Universe whose Son, Jesus Christ, lived as a human, died on the cross and overcame the world when he defeated even death itself–is encountering God and responding to Him.  It’s the crying out of your heart after casting your burden on Him and feeling Him not only take your burden onto His back, but take you up into His arms, as well.

Today, my prayer for you is that you offer up your everyday, ordinary life to God and ask Him to meet you in every moment.  Whether it’s a prayer that He helps you be patient with a coworker or customer, a prayer to have a greater desire for Him, a prayer to give your life over to Him, God is able.  God is able…

So what is worship?  It’s the proper response to an encounter with the One that knitted you together in the womb (Psalm 139:13), the Son that has gone before you (Hebrews 6:20) on your behalf.

Worship is surrender.

Changed from the Inside Out

Friday night, I went to, arguably, the best concert!  Being from Nashville, that is incredible to say, but then again, three of my favorite artists were there: Andrew Ripp, Ben Rector, and Dave Barnes.

Are you ready to laugh at me?  Okay, here goes… I had my journal there with me (of course) so that I could write all of the songs that they sang.  But while each of these talented singers stepped up to the microphone to sing, I was overwhelmed by their talents, their gifts.  I watched as they closed their eyes and felt the music within themselves. It was while watching these ordinary people–these everyday, eating, sleeping, burping, gum-smacking, love-seeking, acceptance-wanting, dream-catching people–that I saw the transformational power of a spiritual gift.

What do I mean by the transformational power of a spiritual gift?  The only way I can answer that questions is to ask you a question in return.  Have you ever felt so in-tune with God that you forget everything else?  In that moment, nothing else in the world matters because God’s presence burns within you… In its purest form, that experience is worship, and it changes you.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

1 Corinthians 12:14

God has given each one of us a special gift, a spiritual gift that connects us to the heart of our Father.  For Dave Barnes, it may be singing; for Michael Phelps, it may be swimming; for my “Uncle Moosie,” his gift is teaching women to defend themselves; for my dad, it’s taking care of patients with a healing touch; for my mom, it’s being exactly who she is: a vivacious spirit driven by love and compassion for all that enter her path.

I know that it is so easy to feel wrapped up in the world, distracted by all of the stressors and demands that surround us. But remember, you were created for much more than a career, an identity, or even a dream of the future.  You are a child of God, and you were created to love and be loved by Him.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…To each is given

the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

1 Corinthians 12:4, 7

God has given you a special, spiritual gift.  It’s one of the many avenues He uses to communicate His love to you.  Maybe without even realizing it, this gift is your special way of worshiping our Father, and it transforms you.

To worship through your spiritual gift: it changes you from the inside out.