Come to Worship and Bow Down before the Lord God your Maker.

Every time believers gather for the purpose of corporate worship of our God, we make a choice to worship and bow our hearts to the One who is the author and finisher of our faith. I find that worship is defined differently by different people. Some say it is when the music and singing starts. Some say it is when we have communion. Others say it is when the Word is taught and spoken to edify the body of Christ. Yet others say it is when we offer the Lord tithes and offerings from our financial storehouse. In reality all of these are facets of worshipping God, yet they do not completely encapsulate the concept of worship. Romans 12:1 says you are to ‘offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.’ Worship is a daily individual lifestyle choice that manifests itself corporately when a body of believers comes together for a few hours to offer their bodies together as living sacrifices. Our will is the gatekeeper to whether or not we sacrificially offer ourselves. Our will is like an eye of the needle, that narrow place that stands between entering in or staying on the periphery.

As a pastor who has traveled extensively, I’ve experienced many styles and formats of corporate worship. Most have the basic elements I mentioned above, but only a few church bodies really enter in to unified corporate worship. Few get beyond the cultural trappings of their brand of worship and beyond the gate of their will to touch the spiritually tangible hem of Jesus’ garment.

The one area of corporate worship that gets more scrutiny than any other is music, especially in the USA. Even strongly grace-minded people often see worship in music as a performance to be evaluated rather than an opportunity to access heaven. Seemingly mature Christians will criticize a musical worship team for ‘the worship’ without considering their own willful choices. Some are more tuned to their 5 natural senses than their spiritual senses. People say things like ‘I just couldn’t get into the music today because of the choice of songs’ or ‘I think the worship was poor today because a certain person was or was not leading the music’ or ‘I have a hard time worshipping when a certain person is here’. Their eyes are more dominant than their spirit, so to speak. Many church bodies do not enter into that awesome, sacrificial place of corporate worship because people choose to stay on the outside using peripheral issues as excuses for their personal willful act of not entering in. They choose to be part of the problem rather than part of the answer.

Leaders….it starts with us. Teach the people to willfully enter in to a place of worship at the time they step into that corporate gathering place. Teach them to choose kingdom minded worship rather than carnal minded worship. Teach them to focus on the One to be worshipped rather than the people involved in worship. Encourage them to press beyond the narrow gateway of the will into the tangible presence of the Holy of Holies. And…..be willing to be the one who leads the way. Be the example! Just as Paul said ‘imitate me’, so we as leaders should be able to say ‘imitate me in worship’. Choose it and see the glory of the Lord!


Release Something Close to YOUR Heart to Gain Something Close to HIS.

"What must be given up to make room for what is coming?" Many times for each of us to increase in spiritual dimensions of life, we must release something else to make room for the next level of the kingdom of God to grow and mature in us. Jesus told the disciples that He had to leave to make way for the Holy Spirit, known as the Counselor, the Advocate, and the Comforter. He said in John 16:5-7 that His leaving was for their good, their benefit, their best interest. They had a hard time believing Jesus’ leaving was for THEIR GOOD! How could Jesus’ departure to the Father be good for them? They were saddened and grieved at the idea of life without Him. Even though Jesus himself said it was for ‘your good’ (John 16:7) they really didn’t want to release the right-now, physical, tangible presence of God for a promise of something intangible, unknown, and BETTER for them. They didn’t want to take Jesus at His word!
We often do the same thing. The Lord often speaks and promises something to us that demands letting go of one thing that is tangible, comfortable, and known in exchange for the promise of something intangible, uncomfortable and unknown. Those things in our life with which we have become comfortable, even when they are good things, require little faith in our walk. However, those things that are a promise, a prophetic projection, AND require giving up something known, good, and tangible require faith, believing, and trusting that He who began a good work in you shall finish His work. We must believe in what He says. We must trust that there is a bigger cause, a greater good, a kingdom purpose for leaving something behind to gain something ahead. These are conditional words from the Lord…..we can’t move ahead unless we leave something behind. If we hang on to what we have, we will not gain what we don’t have.

Jesus proclaimed to the disciples the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them in exchange for his death, resurrection and ascension. However, the disciple’s world view was small. It was confined to a very small group of people in a very small geographic area, and dependant upon the physical presence of one man, Jesus, to bring forth Kingdom goodness into their realm. But Jesus promised the Holy Spirit that would not be limited by a physical body, a geographic boundary, or the presence of any one man or woman. Jesus was speaking of the expansion of the Kingdom of God through all men and a spreading of the gospel to all nations. It could not happen unless He left and the Holy Spirit arrived.

What is there in your life that must leave in order for the greater good, the capacity of Christ, or the design of destiny to come forth in a greater way in you and around you? What must be given up to make room for what is coming? Check your heart today. Check for barriers, comfort zones, soul ties that may hold you back from the next level of your kingdom purpose. Jesus promised the disciples that what was coming would be for THEIR good. You may grieve what is left behind, but you must embrace what lies ahead. What is coming is for YOUR good!!


We Will Never Give Up!

Your victory parade is near!

Many people, when mired in the trials of life, have thoughts of giving up, of taking the easier road, of flowing with the current rather than against it. It means we want to give up! This is especially true for people in the Church who speak and live the gospel of grace and peace in a world blinded by the culture of conformity.

Life is filled with ups and downs, troubles and trials, but it is still life. Jesus said He came to give life ‘to the full’ or ‘abundantly’. He didn’t say what ‘full’ or ‘abundant’ meant, but we can ascertain from His life and the life of the 1st century believers that it was filled with opposition to the good news, overflowing with abuse by religious ones, and targeted by arrows slung from the evil one and……….. a life culminating in overcoming victory!

Paul said it best when he said he was pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.(2 Cor. 4:8,9) This is the man who was flogged with 39 lashes on five occasions, beaten with rods on three occasions, shipwrecked three times, spent a night and day adrift in the sea, imprisoned for his faith, almost starved, stoned to near death, and often lived with little clothing and slept in inhospitable conditions (2 Cor. 11: 23-27). Yet this same man said ‘we will never give up!’ Wow! He was convinced that the good news of grace through faith in Jesus was worth all of the pressing, perplexing, persecuting and striking he experienced. What a testimony to the power of a transformed heart and mind--------he refused to give up when times got really tough!

Many of you have thoughts of giving up in some aspect of life and ministry. You may not have experienced what Paul experienced, yet the pressure and opposition seems too much to bear at times. Be encouraged that you can make it!! The word says that despite the circumstances, Jesus leads us in a triumphal procession of victory as we follow Him. (2 Cor. 2:14) Don’t give up! Whatever is opposing you or pressing on you is temporary!! Get ready for a victory parade!