All For His Glory

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God.” Psalm 100:1 NKJV

If you know me at all you know I LOVE music! I love playing in our worship ministry, I love worship music, and I am so thankful for a place to play my horn. Most people my age struggle to find a place to play, so the opportunity to join so many talented people week after week is such a blessing!!

A few years ago (I could give you the exact date) I had the opportunity to play a solo and had the rare opportunity to play something of my choice. I had always wanted to play along with Charlotte as she sang. My song choice was a blend of two of my all time favorites “Say The Name” and “There is Something About That Name.” These songs have been part of the songs that I would sing to my kids at bedtime, so there was something special about the song choice and something really special about my choice of a partner to play these with. (She is one of my favorites!!) I guess you could call this a “bucket list” item to play along with Charlotte! Such an anointed voice and an incredible heart for worship. You have to have the details to understand why what I am about to say has had such an impact on me and the way I play and worship.

The Sunday morning we were supposed to play the songs I went early to rehearsal and sat down to warm up. We were in a bit of a rush and we really did not have much time to run through the songs before the worship service started. The time came for the songs to begin and it did not go well from the start. Something was just “off.” I can remember very vividly sitting there, and my hands were so heavy I literally could not lift them to play a note. Charlotte backed up as she was singing and motioned for me to play but I just could not do it, like for real could not play. Time stood really still for a bit and then Leslie brought the choir in to sing, and as I listened it was beautiful. The choir sounded amazing and Charlotte did a wonderful job. I pretty much cried all the way through the rest of the worship time and as we left the stage Charlotte took my hand and we walked into her dressing room (aka the women’s bathroom behind the stage area – if you have seen her getting ready in there you understand why this is funny!!) and we sat down to talk and try to figure out why everything was off.

As we began to talk I knew, I knew what the problem was. You see, every time I have played a solo l have always prayed and asked God to sing through my horn and allow me to seek His face as I worship… but not today. Today we were rushed and I was excited and I just began to play without the prayer, without the focus and without the blessing. You may be asking what in the world this has to do with you and your walk and your daily life? I am glad you asked!!! What I learned on this day was that without HIS anointing, HIS blessing, HIS favor it was just notes, just a song. Honestly I hope I never forget the feeling I felt as I sat in my chair and listened to those songs being offered up in worship. I hope I never forget that feeling because I sure never want to repeat it. I never want to be so bold as to just assume that the presence of God is with me because of what “I” am doing. I want Him to be there because I have asked Him, I have invited Him, and what I am doing is for HIS glory and He has put me in the appointed place and the appointed time for what He has called me to do. I want the opportunities He gives me to share the gospel whether through music or a testimony, a kind word or action to bring honor to His name and most of all I want to follow His leading and I want the blessing!!

We can sing, play, share the list could go on and on but if we do it without His blessing, its just noise. We as believers are powerless if we do not seek Him for the power to move and serve. The Bible says without love its just noise. God’s power in our lives is what gives us the boldness and confidence to walk in His ways and in His instruction.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord,  for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:13 NIV

Heavenly Prep Class

I am not a music person. The old expression ‘Can’t carry a tune in a bucket’ is completely bass-guitar-chord-close-up-96380applicable where I am concerned. I’ve come to realize that is only disturbing to those who are. My husband is a music person. He can hear a tune once, maybe twice and can make those same sounds come out of a guitar. The bass kind. There are different kinds of guitars, but music people already know that to be true. It took me years to learn that.

I like music, like to listen but it is not a requirement for me to concentrate. I’ve witnessed my husband work and his productivity is always better with a tune playing in his ear. I do not have now, not have I ever had rhythm. Evidently it is comical to watch me try to clap in time, or so I’ve been told. My husband can pick a rhythmic beat up from nowhere. We can be in a crowded restaurant, barely able to hear ourselves talk when all of a sudden he will begin drumming his fingers on the edge of the table. I do not have that ability, not an iota of it. Sometimes in church when the band gets jazzy the clapping will begin. I’m lost.

A while back one of the band leaders began to clap, to demonstrate over her head for all to see exactly how to clap in rhythm. (My fellow church-goers must share in my rhythm deficit.) I giggled, knowing I was a lost cause, I tapped my foot per my usual and kept my hands busy doing other things.

The music doesn’t speak to me like it does to some, lyrics and notes married together in a sort of poetry. The King will speak to me at times during those times of worship and I’ve been known to jot those words down, often after I’ve written it down I’ll hang on to His Book or my pen, less aware of my inept abilities.

So when the singer lady said

“Y’all we are practicing for Heaven!”

As she clapped and encouraged the others to do so I really giggled knowing full well that I was likely to be in trouble once I got there. I’m fully aware that when I reach my eternal home I will receive a new body, one that makes the current one pale in comparison, but I wonder if I’ll get a new singing voice and the rhythm that should accompany it. I sure hope so, lest I risk having to attend Remedial Praise and Worship Class.

I admire those who are musically gifted, I am thankful for them as they are reminders of how I will spend eternity, worshipping the King in song.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day-to-day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96 (ESV) 

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Back to Basics: Worship

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It’s coffee time! And worship time! For me these two go hand in hand. Sound strange to you? Read along and maybe you’ll join me.

As a church attender for fif-… ah… many years, I’ve attended many “worship” services. You too?

If so, you’ve probably noticed the similarities and the differences. You’ve felt at times as if the worship ushered you into the very presence of God, while at other times you wondered why this particular meeting was even labeled a “worship service.” You’ve most likely worshipped with tens, hundreds, or thousands at time, and hopefully you’ve found your deepest worship with just a close few, maybe friends, likely family, definitely a spouse, and hopefully one-on-one just you and your Abba. Through singing, preaching, praying, instrumental music, in your own living room, on a mountain peak, or in a huge arena, you’ve worshipped. You have perhaps worshipped through grief that seems it will bury you, and at other times, through joy and ecstatic delight. You may have found yourself worshipping alone even though you were in a crowd, or more sadly, alone in a crowd of worshippers when your heart and mind were far away.

So what is worship? What do we need to know that will draw our hearts to be true worshippers?

As I’ve studied Revelation chapters 4 and 5 lately, I’ve seen true worship in its ultimate, eternal character. Worship in this heavenly scene involves:

cross-sunset-humility-devotion-161089Bowing down. Throughout the New Testament the word translated “worship” is proskuneo. This Greek word refers to kissing the hand in reverence or of bowing down, kneeling, or prostrating oneself. Here in Revelation 4 and 5 the elders and 4 living creatures are falling down before the Father and The Lamb in worship. Their reverence and awe is evident. How long has it been since you knelt to worship or lay flat on your face worshipping Him in reverence of His holiness? I remember hearing of a preacher who left indentations in the floor boards beside his bed because of his faithful kneeling to pray day after day. Wow! To be that faithful in prayer and worship!

Speaking. Revelation 4:8 says,

And the four living creatures… day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ ”

They never stop saying it. Never!

The 24 elders then join them, also speaking in worship of God. (4:11) They say,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

In chapter 5, we read of their worship of Jesus:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

And in Revelation 5:11 thousands of angels join the proclamation, reciting,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And by the end of this heavenly panorama in chapter 5, EVERY creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea join these worshippers around the throne in saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Ascribing worth to the one being worshipped. Everything these worshippers said attributed worth to God or Jesus. The Father was worshipped as the creator. The son was worshipped as the Lamb slain to ransom people for God, for being The Redeemer. Jesus was also worshipped as the only one worthy to carry out God’s redemptive plan and His judgment on the Earth. How often do we appeal to God or His son Jesus about our wants and wishes, but quickly go away without admiring their glory, acknowledging their love and power, or simply sitting in awe of their majesty and holiness?

Humility. If you didn’t pick up on this, let me say it straight out: Father God, the Lamb of God and the Spirit of God are the only ones who are worthy of our worship! We need to lay down our will, our desires, our image, and our pride when we come before God. That’s what prompts us to fall to our knees or flat on our faces, the realization that we are nothing and He is all that matters. If we don’t choose humility, it will one day be thrust upon us. Make no mistake, “Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) Every knee. Every tongue. Not just those knees and tongues who chose to follow Him. But the knees and tongues of those “under the earth” who reaped a different destiny because of their pride and rejection of Him. 

worship-cambodia-church-public-domainSinging. There is music in Heaven and music in our worship here on earth as well. There are trumpets and loud noises and singing. A song of redemption sung by the redeemed! I am a trained music educator. To those who say you can’t sing, and therefore you don’t sing in church, may I free you up? A baby can’t talk, but it doesn’t learn how by not trying. A 5-year-old doesn’t know how to read, and they never will if they don’t try. Everything you do in life, at one time you didn’t know how, but you tried and you learned. It’s the same with singing. Just do it. When we first married, my dear sweet husband sang out of tune because he had been raised in a house that had an out of tune piano. But years of singing in church has turned him into quite a singer. So I encourage you, bring that sacrifice of praise! The sacrifice you may be making might just be sacrificing your pride and not worrying about what people around you at church think about how you sing.

A Last Word.

Before you go to a church to worship this week, try worshipping alone. My personal worship time each day, from the time I started having kids until today, has almost daily involved a cup of coffee, a snuggly blanket, His Word, a pen and a notebook. Also, it often involves a combination music and dance, speaking and quiet meditation, reading and praying, writing and interceding, tears and joy, questioning and listening, confessing and crying out to Him, praise and love, bowing-sitting-falling facedown, and a huge dose of humility or humiliation depending on the condition of my prideful heart.

When you do congregate with your brothers and sisters this next Sunday at our Father’s house, examine yourself. Are you going through the motions or going before the very throne of God to honor and praise Him? Are you worshipping Him in spirit and in truth as John 4:23-24 tells us to? It’s quite easy to “get in the spirit” in an exciting musical “worship” setting, but are you truly worshipping? It’s not just the clapping or hand raising or the feeling of euphoria. Are you humbling yourself? Ascribing worth to God? Bowing down? Speaking or listening? Singing? … Dig into His Holy Word; get to know Him more. The more we know of the truth of who He really is, the more our hearts truly worship Him in spirit and in truth.

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