The Foundation of Worship

I should preface this with: I am not a theologian of any kind. My thoughts written here are exactly that, just thoughts. To sum this disclaimer up, I had a thought today that I am exploring out and I am curious to hear what others think about this subject.

What is worship? Is modern worship via music only surface level worship? Would worship in its truest sense be better described as a sacrifice? Well maybe not described as a sacrifice but always in association with sacrifice? Can you have ‘worship’ without sacrifice?

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot from the MSG version of the Bible (I usually change it up every year or so). There’s a handful of verses that have grabbed my attention that have lead to this train of thought:

Hebrews 13:16 – ‘.. share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worshipa different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.’

Psalm 51:18-19 – ‘Make Zion the place you delight in, repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls. Then you’ll get real worship from us, acts of worship small and large, Including all the bulls they can heave onto your altar! Make Zion the place you delight in, repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls. Then you’ll get real worship from us, acts of worship small and large, Including all the bulls they can heave onto your altar!’

John 4:23-24 ESV – ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ‘

James 1:27 NLT – ‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.’

These are just a handful of verses out of countless verses in the bible that deals with worship. Some of the verses above have more weight than others and some don’t directly deal with worship as much as others, but I think they are good to keep in mind.

Ultimately, as a Worship Tech Director, I’m always wondering what is true worship? What can I do that helps build a better environment for others to see and participate in worship in it’s truest form? What can I do from a tech standpoint that doesn’t distract the audience from worship, but instead helps them participate in worship? But I first need to define what worship is.

Something I see/hear often, especially with my wife being a worship leader is, “That was great worship!” But then live their week out in a way that doesn’t represent that. Even worse, within myself, I’ll connect with a song in a new deeper emotional way, but then as soon as ‘worship’ is over, I’m no longer thinking about it and I’m off to the next thing. Then we think great of ourselves because we had ‘such a great worship time’ but then it places no future impact on our life. The thought of that deeply burdens me. How can we claim to be touched by God through a moment of ‘worship’ and then have it not affect our lives outside of that hour or two of service?

With that being said, going back to where we started here, we’ve heard it said that sacrifice is a form of worship but I don’t believe that to be true. Sacrifice should be the foundation of worship, you can’t have worship without sacrifice.

In a contemporary worship setting during service we proclaim His goodness through singing but for that to be true worship, it starts with the sacrifice of our ego, or ourself. That can happen through the raising of our hands, or bowing on our knees. What the physical act is doesn’t matter as much as the intent behind it, letting go of ourselves, our ego, our pride, and letting in God. The act of raising hands or etc shouldn’t be seen as some superspiritual act or only done when ‘you feel the spirit’ but it should be done to proclaim to yourself, “I’m letting down my pride” and to proclaim to others, “Jesus is real and I want to follow Him.” As baptism is, raising hands should also be viewed as a public decoration that you believe in Jesus! And in the words of David, “I will become even more undignified than this!”

But even still, is contemporary worship during service only surface level? Perhaps worship gets deeper as we make sacrifices throughout the week. Like the taboo topic of tithing. Or like in Hebrews 11, can it be found in the kitchen serving others, making meals for others, or helping single moms, or orphaned children? Or what about refugees? What about helping the homeless man? What about bringing strangers into your home to get them out of the cold and providing them with a nice meal? Feeling uncomfortable yet? I am.. All this without Instagramming it? Nothing in return, no recognition. On top of all these external forms of worship and sacrifices, then there is an internal form as well, like resisting lust, anger, choosing to love, pride, greed, laziness, etc. This could even be argued as a greater sacrifice since these things sometimes live so deep within us. 

It’s easy to worship on a Sunday morning, and that’s great! But I can’t help but think if we aren’t making some sort of sacrifices on a semi-regular baises that push us out of our comfort zone, requires us to go out of our way and show love to others in some sort of way without receiving anything back or any sort of recognition for our acts, is that Sunday morning worship even true worship?

Ultimately our worship, our sacrifices comes down to intent. Remember Cain and Abel? Why did God accept Abels sacrifice but not Cains? Cains sacrifice came easy and was more of a check off the box, whereas Abels sacrifice was from his best crops. In our life that is, Abel gave God his best coffee grounds, the better parking spot, the better iPhone, the better meal option, the better computer, the better spot in line, and kept for himself the average options. And Cain kept for himself the best options, and gave God the average options. This makes me look within my heart, at both external and internal sacrifices and wonder where am I making ‘average’ sacrifices to God and not the best? Where am I taking the path of least resistance to just get by? What sins within my heart am I allowing to go unchanged?

Then once we start making these sacrifices, these acts of worship, we have to quickly ask ourselves, is it worth it? If we decide that it is we will continue it and let it become apart of our lifestyle. Worship needs to become our lifestyle, not just a singular action. And if it’s not worth it to us, we’ll stop and retreat back to ourselves. I realize it isn’t as black and white as this, and that there’s so much grace in all of it, but it’s something to think about.

If you’ve managed to read this far into this underdeveloped word vomit thought process of worship, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! As for me, after thinking through this, I am very challenged to make more sacrifices in my life to show God’s love to others.

Romans 3:27-28,31 MSG- .. God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.[..] But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.’

Open The Blinders

2 Corinthians 5:16

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

One of the biggest things I have been challenged with this year is how I view others. How I view the stranger I walk by in the store, the cashier at the checkout, the random person driving by, and just about every individual I encounter. What I noticed was, how my attitude toward people changes depending on where I am. At church it’s easy to be loving and welcoming, but outside of church, it’s so easy to assume the worst about everyone. It’s easy to forget that they, just like myself, are a child a God.

The first time I was convicted of this was while listening to the song ‘Ever Be’ when the line, “Let Your praise ever be on my lips” played. I thought about how that would effect my relationships, strangers on the street, the cashier, the person driving by, etc. That’s when I began to realize, that everyone is a child of God, and everyone is loved by Him. It’s my job to be intentional with others and show them that love that Christ first gave me.

And it’s hard.

What’s easy is to forget about the strangers at the store, to walk by them without a second thought, to go on with the day rushing to the next thing. It’s the unspoken rule to not talk to strangers in public, we all act as if we want to be left to our own regards and people are just an expensive you can’t afford to spend time on. I know I’m guilty of it.

But Christ keeps reminding me, “See that person, yup, I love them. See that one, yup, I love them too. That one over there, yup, that’s my child as well.” I believe it’s not only our job to stop evaluating others from a human point of view, but to go a step further and start evaluating others from Christ’s point of view.

The story of the cross is not a story about Jesus, but rather a story about how much God loves us and what He will do to reach each and everyone of us. Loving others is a blessing that we get to be apart of. And at times, yes it’s hard, you just want to do your own thing. But when we can take a minute to step back, and allow God to work in us, to allow God to let us view others the way He views them, we allow love to come into us. And love covers a multitude of wounds. Not just others wounds, but even your own.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (Emphasis Mine)

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

We’ve been given this task of reconciling people to Christ, we are Christ’s ambassadors, we speak for Christ.

I guess, what I am wondering is this, what would happen if we would open up our eyes and heart, to see everyone you see, everywhere you see them, as Christ sees them. There’s so many people who are hurting, who are just slipping through the cracks. I can’t even imagine what a simple smile, or hello could do for them. What if you were more courteous to the cashier or server, then they are to you? They might be trying to sell you a product, or gain your favor for a large tip, but you have the opportunity to give them God’s gift. How much greater is that?

I think because we are not getting persecuted everyday, being killed, that we forget how great of a message and how important of a message we have.

Let go of the binders and share the light with all.

The dream.

The other night I had a dream. No, not the Martin Luther King Jr. kind of dream. But a dream nonetheless that has left me pondering since.

But before I share my dream, I need to first give some history of my dreams. For years I would dream dreams of me fighting in battles, saving peoples lives. The first time this happen, in my dream I was on a raft full of people in stormy waters (however it was also parked in a dock, cause it’s a dream) and on this raft we were going out to war. I did my best to blend into the crowd on the raft so that I would not have to participate in the battle. But then, a real life coworker was on the shipping dock and whispered to himself, aren’t you suppose to be a christian? Since it was a dream, I heard what he said and it hit me hard. I jumped to the front of the raft took control of the helm, directed us out to war and also took control of the 50 cal that just happen to appear.

End of 1st dream.

I woke up from that dream realizing that as a christian, we have a war to fight with this world and we can’t waste our time blending in. For the next few years I would always have dreams that I was some sort of super hero saving peoples lives, occasionally I would forget how to use my powers but by the end of the dream, I would survive and have saved lives.

This continued until  I enlisted in the army. During basic training I quit having this dreams, actually I simply quit remembering my dreams all together. Here and there I would remember, but none of them were ever as cool as my battle dreams.

But the other night, I had a dream. It was a war dream. I was placed in a battle with my current army unit. It was us verses some kind of aliens. Everyone had a rifle but me. I was scared out of my mind. I noticed others had picked up some of the enemies rifles, it brought me a moment of hope thinking I could do the same. Nothing, I couldn’t find a single one.

I was scared and weaponless.

Then 4 of us lined up behind a door, about to clear a room. Still without a weapon. But our plans stopped as the enemy through a grenade at us. I managed to escape the blast, but as I turned back I turned around to be directly facing an enemy, holding my buddy, while the enemies rifle was facing directly at me. I feared for my life. He took one shot, but I dodged, took a second and I dodged again. He ran out of bullets and begin to reload a new magazine. I took this opportunity to charge him and steal his rifle out of his hands as he was fumbling. I ran toward him, my head was inches from the barrel of his rifle. He was fully reloaded with his hand on the trigger. I had full confidence in myself that I would be able to grab his barrel and swipe it out his hands. I grabbed it, but he over powered me, the barrel lowered to my stomach. I thought, is this it? Is this end of me? He pressed the trigger. I was hit square to the chest. The blast woke me up.

After I had collected myself when I woke, I thought about the dream and was quickly reminded of the spirtual battle that is constantly going on around us. We can’t see it. But we often feel the effects of it.

What I realized is how stupid it is for us to try to wrestle with the world, to wrestle with the enemy when we aren’t even properly equipped. I was brought back to Ephesians 6. What was I missing? A weapon. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

We need to equip ourselves with the knowledge of the Word of God. The enemy is crafty, he’s not something we can beat on our own. Without God’s Word, we have no chance.

The dream has left me wondering, am I equipped? Where does my confidence lie? In my own hands, or in the hands of my Creator? Am I carrying Gods Sword, or my own?

Just starting typing…

(fyi, wrote this with eyes close, and without double checking errors. & it was more of a brain dump)

We as a society have learned to receive everything. We have been accustomed to having things down for us. WE have automatic sinks so that we don’t have to turn the faucet on. We go to coffee shops because we don’t want to make our own coffee for much cheaper. We go to fast food chains because it’s to much work to make our own food, that tastes better, is better for you, and cheaper. If the remote isn’t near us, we won’t get up to change the channel. Sometimes we will be hungry, but to lazy to get up. We’d gladly take it if it was served to us, but since it is not, we’ll pass. Not only that, but it accumulates over with how we want instant results. We want to look good without working out or eating healthy. We want to have money without having to do the work. We want to became great, without having to put in the work. We want to get better without taking the time for ask for help, we expect others to come help us. I’m extremely guilty of this myself. I’d much prefer to be served than to serve. Now of course I won’t tell others that, but that is naturally who I am. I think we are all guilty of this to an extent. We want greatness, but we are to lazy to put in the work. We want something, but won’t seek after it unless someone us does it for us. We look to be served.

More examples: We want a clean house, but we won’t pick up after ourselves. We expect someone else to. I’ve noticed that some guys won’t even flush a urnal if it isn’t an automatic flush. We dream of the places we want to go, we ‘pin’ the things we want to make, do, and/or eat, but we usually don’t put in the effort to make those dream comes true. But we get jealous of those on youtube who have worked their butts off to be able to live our dreams.

Now here’s an anomaly.

Jesus Christ came into the world to serve, not to be served.

Matthew 20:28

 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,and to give his life as a ransom for many.

I really feel like that defies everything that we’ve sorta become. It’s not that the world told us we are to be served. But over the years we’ve sorta come to expect others to serve us. But in reality, we aren’t worth being served. What have you done as in individual that makes you more important than the next person, especially so important that you should be served?

The only person worth serving is Christ, but despite that, He came to serve us. Humbling. With that in mind, it begs to ask the question, how can we serve others? In the littlest of things, in the biggest of things, how can we serve others? How can we humble ourselves before others?

John 13:5-6

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus washed His disciples feet. That’s gross in and off it self, but considering they didn’t have as good of hygiene as we do today, and that they were sandals, their feet are GROSS.  What does it look like today to follow the example that Jesus set. What does it look like for us to wash the feet of others? It means, no one is to good for us, doesn’t it? No one is below us. Even if you’re the best, you’re not.

For me, I think sometimes I try to dismiss others because I don’t like how they are, or I think to be blunt with my thoughts, that I am better than them for one reason or another. Only because they are different than me, and I can’t seem to normalize our differences?

James 2:3-4

If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I think again, that’s why James is talking about here in James 2. For whatever we like to favor some people over others because we rate them as a better person. But those who we dismiss, are still people. People who still have the same needs and wants that the rest of us have.

To pull this all together to an end, I believe as christians, we need to intentionally seek out ways that we can serve others, even to the point of humbling ourselves and perceiving our self image to not be as good as others, and that their should be no discrimination in who we serve.


Proverbs 8:13

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech.

A while back I started doing blog posts inspired from the book of proverbs. Verse by verse I was going. Eventually all the verses just started to become the same thing over and over again. I lost a lot of inspiration. In fact, it’s been since March 14th of last year since I last posted about Proverbs (view here). I have kept checking back on this next verse, reading it across almost every translation just to find some inspiration. I just honestly haven’t wanted to write about this verse, or any of the rest in the chapter. It’s all just become the same thing over and over again.

But alas, today I am pushing myself through it because sometimes with your relationship with God, and with others, you just have to keep pushing through despite how you feel.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil. Looks like we can categorize pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech under evil. How many of you hate evil? How many of you hate talking to someone and they start to get prideful, nothing they say is wrong, they have all the best stories, their way is always right, etc? Or how about arrogant people? Like trying to talk with Tony Stark, or Steve Jobs for example? Talking to people who are full of themselves is the worst. I think it’s clear to say we all hate this kind of evil.

But what about when it is in yourself? It’s easy to recognize it is within others, but what about yourself? Are you/can you be prideful or arrogant? Do you find yourself to be more right than wrong? Looking honestly at past situations, why do you think that is? Where you truly right, or was pride getting in the way from you admitting your wrong?

Maybe pride is stopping you from opening up to others. You like to control how others see you, you show others an edited version of you, but not the raw footage.

But to fear the Lord is to hate evil and pride and arrogance and evil behavior and perverse speech.

What is it in your own life that you are failing to recognize, but you can so easily recognize in others?

Have Faith or Wander

I was listening to a sermon the other day called, “Don’t Stop on Six” by Steven Furtick (To view on youtube, click here). It was a super great sermon about Joshua and marching around Jericho.

Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know, that Israel had to wander for 45 years before they marched around Jericho? Why? Because 45 years prior when Moses sent out the 12 spies to spy on the land, 10 of them returned with a lack of faith that God could help them bring victory of the land.

Their lack of faith kept Israel wandering for 45 years.

It makes me wonder, what promise of God am I keeping myself from because I lack the faith? What are you keeping yourself from because you the lack the faith? It’s not that God doesn’t lack the power and desire for you to receive His promise, but rather we tend to lack the faith that God can carry us through no matter how big our enemies, our opposition, looks.

What does faith in God look like? Sometimes it’s you starting a conversation with a stranger, showing them God’s love through your conversation. For a lot of us, talking to strangers might be the scariest thing ever, but isn’t God bigger than that giant?

Sometimes faith might be asking someone for you to pray over them. Maybe your scared you won’t say the right words, and you have the right to believe that. I agree with you. But that’s why we have to rely on the Holy Spirit to take control. Romans 8:26, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” It’s not about you or our prayer, it’s about letting the Holy Spirit use you for Him to pray over someone.

Sometimes faith might be to not show partiality to those you know (James 2:1-13) but engaging with someone others don’t normally engage with. It may not be comfortable, but I also don’t think Jesus’ death was very comfortable. But also, it is showing love and that is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).

Sometimes faith might being saying “No” to what your normally would say “Yes” to, around those that are closest to you, in order that you may be an example to them that they don’t have to live down that same path. Will they question you? Yes. Will it be awkward? Yes. Will they, might, distance themselves from you? Maybe. But would you rather keep wandering in sin for 45 years, or move on to where God has called you?

In the same way, sometimes faith might be saying “Yes” to what others normally say “No” too. This might be reaching out to others in a public school, in a bar, in a neighbor hood, at a club, in the streets. Maybe these places aren’t comfortable to go to, but isn’t that where Jesus went?

What is faith in your life? Where are you settling? Where are you letting yourself wander?

A great point Steven Furtick made, was when the Israelites were wandering around Jericho there are two things you can not: It was Joshua who told them not to speak when marching, and 2) Joshua never told them how many days/times they would have to march. They didn’t know it would only be seven days (well the bible doesn’t tell us they would know). That speaks volumes to me. That’s like doing a workout, and not ever knowing when it is going to end, not ever knowing what your next move is. There’s no hope for the end, there’s no motivation to get through to the end, when you don’t know when the end is.

Let that sink in.

Now why would Joshua not want them to speak? What is often your limiting factor when trying to accomplish anything? Is it the physical effort that goes into it? Can your body just not take it? Or is it your thoughts that often stop you, telling you “You can’t do this,” “you’re not cut out for this,” etc? Just a thought by Steven Furtick.

Not’s enough for now, but I really encourage and suggest everyone to check out that message by Steven. Let it speak into your own life. He made so many more great points.

Raising Hands (Continued)

Last time I wrote, it was about raising hands in worship (Link here). At the very end of the post I said I would challenge myself to raising my hands.

I started off in just my living room, all alone. Turned on the worship music and I raised my hands. It may have been one of the most awkward things I’ve ever done. I kept thinking to myself, this is so silly! But quickly I was reminded of that verse about King David after he was caught dancing before the Lord. David says this in 2 Samuel 6:22

I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes..

Something about that encouraged me. It brought me peace and joy. In that moment raising hands didn’t even seem like it was enough anymore, I wanted to do more! I began to embrace the silliness of it, because some how it brought me so much joy that I could worship God in that manner. I could fell God’s joy taking control of me.

I was excited to do it again, but next time not alone, but with others my age in the church.

When that time came, I was perfectly content keeping my hands in my pockets. I didn’t see the point again. I thought, maybe I will in the second half of worship. When the second half of worship came, again I was perfectly content with keeping my hands in my pocket.

I thought about worship. It bothered me that I knew exactly when a large group of people could raise their hands. I could predict on the beat when it would happen. There are certain worship cues that makes it happen. Sometimes it’s the progression of the drums beating faster, sometimes it’s the progression of the band playing louder. Sometimes it is triggered through certain words, such as “fire,” “heart,” “raised hands,” and etc.

It discouraged me.

I felt like worship time almost because a performance from the bands perspective. If we just do “this,” “this,” and “that,” than we will have people raising their hands and that will make our performance successful.

I honestly don’t think that’s the case, but in the moment, that is what I was being fed. I didn’t want to be a part of that system. I didn’t want to be manipulated to raise my hands. I didn’t want others to think I was raising my hands because of the progression of the drums, the loudness of the band, or even the stillness of the band. I didn’t want to be a part of the created experience.

Pride had set up a wall to keep me from worshipping God. A wall so high I couldn’t see what worship was really about, about praising God for who He is. To be honest, I believe we most let go of control. After all, isn’t it the worship leaders job to get us to praise God? What I learned is that I need to let go of my pride, and my control, and hand it over, in this case, hand it over to the worship leader.

Let go.

It took me to the last couple songs to be reminded why I had even wanted to raise my hands in the first place, just to pray over the people. It took me a while. I kept thinking, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because I know everyone else will be.” or, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because there’s no reason to in this point of the song and I don’t want people to think I’m dumb.” Just back and forth, back and forth. The thing is, if I were to listen to those two statements, than I would never raise my hands, I would never do anything but sit back and watch everyone else.

Something promptly, and I finally took my head out of worship and I just started praying with raised hands. At first, again it was so incredibly weird. Not to mention, it takes a lot of strength to keep holding your arms up. But I did. I embraced the silliness of it. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t imagine praying any other way. As I finished my prayer, I kept my hands raised and enjoyed the rest of worship like so.

Embrace it. God is so great, the more you can let go and just let the ‘silliness’ take over, the better. Don’t hold back, let it go.