Posts Tagged ‘worship’


I am watching a young man worship the Lord right now and I am blown away. Not by his technical ability. Not by the way he is leading, he’s essentially alone. He is raising his voice in an empty room. No one will ever buy a ticket to see what he is doing, though perhaps we should. He’s off key, out of tune, and he doesn’t know all the words, but the authenticity is beyond anything I have seen in a long time. This guy just flat out loves Jesus and is praising with all His might. I know his Heavenly Father is smiling, because the Spirit within me is bearing witness. Every time the word victorious is said in the song, he screams it. This guy at least in his heart, soul and Spirit understands worship and the authenticity touches my heart.


Not long ago, I overheard a person talking about their church. I have to admit I was taken aback. As this person spoke, they related how no one preaches at the church and there are times where they just sit in silence for a whole service. “No one tells us what to do or what to believe.” They seemed to think this was Panacea, almost paradise. The faith is a fairly old tradition, but I have to tell you the truth… I don’t get it.

See I know my own tendency to go my own way. “There’s a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” That’s what Scripture says, and I’m pretty sure I have demonstrated it in my own life. Left to my own devices, even after all these years as a Christian, it’s still pretty easy for me to talk myself into doing what I want to do and putting God’s seal of approval on it. Thankfully I have a few things that help me to stay on the right path.

First I have God’s Word. I have the Bible, I can look at it, read it, study it and take it to heart. I read the Word and the Holy Spirit convicts me to stay on the right path.

Next I have the church. When I come together with other believers around the Word of God, I receive the blessing of conviction and accountability. If I am honest enough to be open about what I am thinking, someone will take me to task and take me back to the Word of God and show me the error of my ways.

Finally I have a pastor. He comes and preaches the Word of God to me. He studies the Word. He prays and He brings messages that are often exactly what I need to hear. Not always what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. He declares the Word of God. He does tell me what to believe and sometimes even what to do, based not on his whim but on what the Word of God says. His messages sometimes step on my toes. That is a blessing, called conviction that God gives us to turn us around before we make things much worse. No one telling us what to do or what to believe may sound like a wonderful thing… but it isn’t. In the grand scheme of things, if the Scriptures are true, and by the way, THEY ARE, then someone who doesn’t tell you what to do or what to believe is showing you they don’t care about you at all.

I think it is far better for someone to go to the Word, seek the Lord and preach it, speaking the truth in love and saying…

Thus sayeth the Lord…

From there the choice is mine, but at least I’ve heard the truth. What I do with that is up to me.


(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Temple was the 98th Archbishop of Canterbury, of the Church of England. He was a theologian and scholar and his definition of worship is one of the best I have ever seen. People seem to assume that worship is music, it isn’t. Music is a tool used in worship. It is an element of worship and it can be used to draw us into worship. I spend so much time calling this out, not because I dislike music. I love music, but I have seen so many churches splinter over style of worship and specifically style of music, that I feel the need to call this out. Worship is not about our preferences, it’s for an audience of One. Worship is for God. Yes it draws us to God. Yes there are styles that we enjoy more than others, but we should never let what we do for God to divide us. That strips away all the Worship in it and I believe breaks the heart of God. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” There’s no room for worship wars in that.

Instead, we should see worship as Temple defined it. I broke it down into bullet points to help us absorb it.

  • Worship is the submission of all 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 holiness;
  • the opening of the heart to His love;
  • the surrender of will to His purpose—
  • and all of 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.

Did you notice the final element of that related to self-centeredness? Demanding our preferences would qualify. Instead let’s return our focus to the true object of our worship. Matt Redman wrote a song called Heart of Worship about this very thing. Here is the background of the song.

By the way, this definition came from my reading of Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland


swimmingpondI was speaking at a wonderful Christian Camp over the weekend. The schedule was a little unusual for me. Rather than speaking morning and evening, I spoke in the morning and the middle of the afternoon. I’m not complaining. It was really great. It left me free in the late afternoon and evening to do a little exploring, and a lot of socializing with the folks I was speaking to. In the late afternoon, I mentioned to the camp director that I was going to take a little walk to the swimming pond. She responded jokingly, “Don’t get lost.” Well, never being one to respond well to authority (lol) that’s exactly what I did. I got lost.

Now I wasn’t massively lost, I just grabbed the wrong trail back to my lodging. The new trail was a little longer, but much better marked and easier to find, which played well into the rest of the story.

You see, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busyness. I’ve been so busy that my thoughts and especially my prayers have been pretty easily side tracked, which is never a good thing. I awoke the morning after having been momentarily lost, well before sun rise. Part of me wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I was being nudged. Next thing I know I found myself walking down the longer but better marked trail in the dark. Before long I was on a bench by the swimming pond looking at an amazing starlit and moonlit sky, sitting, listening to the sounds of nature and having a conversation and a time of praise with my heavenly Father watching for the Sunrise. In the silence of that early morning, I got a chance to rest in His presence and reconnect in a meaningful way with the source of my strength.

Sometimes it pays to get lost.


Yes, yes, I did. I ministered at the Liberty Raymond Tavern over the weekend. I know what you might be thinking so I better explain myself. This is no longer a working bar, though for the record I would minister in a bar if God gave the opportunity. If it was good enough for Billy Sunday, it’s good enough for me, but I digress. The Liberty Raymond Tavern is a great place.
liberty raymond
It’s a bed and breakfast, owned and run by my friends Bill and Brenda Weiss (no relation, except for the best kind brother and sister in Christ). It’s a beautiful, peaceful, historic place. It was build in the 1800s as a stagecoach stop and many of the marks of it’s history are still there. It was also a stop on the Underground railroad. In one of the closets there is a small hidden panel in the back wall that opens to a small room under the stairs and a hatch into the basement where runaway slaves could hide as they rested, on their way to freedom. It still feels like a place of refuge, rest and peace.
underground railroad
Aside from their wonderful hospitality, they also have these intimate, Spirit filled worship gatherings in the barn. I was privileged to speak and paint at these for several nights. You can really feel the presence of God in this place.
Liberty barn
So yes I ministered in a tavern, (no alcohol flowed but God did) and I hope to do it again, soon.


Today’s post is going to be short. I am about to head out preach at Mohler Church of the Brethren in nearby Ephrata, PA. I love that I get to minister the Gospel and am grateful for every church that opens their doors to my ministry. I love getting the opportunity to worship in a wide variety of different churches, with a wide variety of different styles. I think I am in a very special place, to be able to see so much of the body of Christ.

People (including me) have a lot of preferences when it comes to worship. We may like different types of worship styles, music styles, etc. Some like liturgical, some are more contemporary, classical, traditional, etc. Some are loud and demonstrative, some are more quiet and introspective. Then of course there are all the denominations. You know what I’ve found. All these people, love Jesus and want to honor Him and I think that’s the point. It’s easy to get competitive with the church down the street. It’s easy to make our preferences “right.” I would urge us all to be careful with that. Oh, I’m sure there’s some bad doctrine out there and we all need to be good Bereans checking things out against the Word, but at the end of the day, all those other folks aren’t our competitors, their our brothers and sisters.

My belief is that all these different expressions of worship are the result of a merciful God inviting a multitude of differently wired people into His loving presence. It’s for us, a gift from a loving God, to worship Him in a way that works with how He made us as individuals.

Worship is derived from “worth-ship.” God is worthy of our worship. Find the congregation where you “fit” and lift your praises to Him. He is worthy!


There are few things as disappointing as planning an event or a service and very few people show up. It can be really discouraging and I am with you. The smallest group I ever preached to was two people and one of them was my wife. It makes you wonder why you do what you do. Like everything else though, this is a choice.

There is a real temptation to cancel the event, the service, and move on or at the very least to cut back and do something lesser. And yes, that’s a choice, but I question whether or not it’s the right one. (I know there may be financial considerations, but let’s take that off the table for a moment.)

What does it say to the people that showed up? The people that braved the elements or at the very least cared enough to show up when no one else did. These are people with choices of their own. People who had other options and chose to valuable spend time they will never get back on you and your event. Maybe instead of cutting back we should reward their loyalty, by not only not cutting back but by going above and beyond.

They might be just a few, but they showed up. They’re your audience, loyal to you or at least to what you do. They’re the people that will tell others if it goes well and probably cheer you on even if it falls flat. I think that deserves something special. I remember showing up at a concert held by a national recording artist. It was a small venue and a fairly small audience. He began talking to us, sharing his heart and taking requests as we shouted them out to him. He totally reworked his performance to us, His audience. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever been a part of. Was he disappointed at how small the crowd was? If he was he didn’t show it. Instead, he made us feel like we were special to him. He made a fan for life that night.

What will you do, the next time only a few people show up? I recommend bringing it for all you’re worth no matter what size the audience is and let God handle the rest. The choice is yours.

(Author’s note: I know some in the Christian community may balk at my use of the word audience here, as there is an objection to seeing things as “performances” rather than acts of worship. I use the word here to connote a group of people coming together for an experience and hope you will give me some latitude. I, too, worship for an audience of One.)