My evolution of Worship

When I made the decision to follow God, to live for Him, to allow Him to guide me, I learned right away that worship was a powerful thing. At the age of 13, I could feel that wonderful, yet very powerful, Holy Spirit at work during the worship aspect of Church. Sometimes it was warm and comforting, other times it was a heavy weight on my shoulders. I learned very quickly to enter in, or get out!

At age 13, worship was a learning process for me. I was learning how to listen to God. I was learning to follow His prompting. I was learning what to do with all the emotions that ran through me during that time. (When we youth pastored, we often saw teens that suddenly had to use the restroom in the heaviest part of worship. This was their physical bodies being uncomfortable with what their spiritual bodies were encountering. They were learning.) I either worshipped, or I would walk out.

At age 16, I became a worshipper. I no longer counted down the minutes until the song service was over, instead I was free to raise my hands, or lower my head, or fall on my knees, however the spirit led. I loved every note, I loved singing and truly worshiping. I would grow with each church service as I really listened to God speak to me. I felt called into ministry not during a sermon, but during the worship time.

At age 20, I attended a Christian College. I loved chapel services. I set my work schedule around the chapel services each day. The service was 40 minutes long. That left about 15 minutes designated to worship. I learned at this time to enter in quickly. I learned that if I wanted to gain the benefits of true worship, I could not wait for the perfect song sung by my favorite worship leader. I had to walk in, begin to sing to God and enter in. I never felt like it was enough, but I learned quickly to get as much as I could out of worship in the little time I had. It was at this time in my life that in the midst of worship God spoke to me and shone a supernatural light on a gorgeous man pacing at the altar in prayer. The lifeline that God had established between me and Him during worship was used to show me the man I would marry. (unbelievable, yet SO amazing!)

By age 24, I had allowed myself to get too dependent on songs, great singers,  and “the right atmosphere” in order to enter into worship. I got bogged down with ministry, busy with work, weighted down with the things that come with life. I still worshipped, but it wasn’t the same. I walked through the motions, had few breakthroughs, and didn’t anticipate it as much as the 10 years prior.  I would have never known this was where I had allowed myself to fall had it not been for a church that loved worship. Pastor and I had taken a new youth pastorate and the church was a church of worship. I felt myself starting all over. I had to relearn to worship. I had to learn how to let go and surrender and allow God to take over. I had to learn that worship wasn’t just about me. It was about us! About God and me! I had to relearn the convicting power the Holy Spirit holds. I had to relearn how to deal with that conviction. I had to learn again how to enter in no matter what the circumstances. Oh, how I praise God for teaching a forgetful student. I believe that church, and their obedience to God, and their openness to worship SAVED MY LIFE!

At age 26 I found myself and my worship loving church under attack. Our worship was being threatened. It was a time in my life where I fought for my worship time. I moved my physical body away from those who would not allow my spiritual bodies to be moved. I pressed forward even when the circumstances were purposefully attempting to hold me back. Worship became a lifeline, a sacred time, something I NEEDED to fight for.

At age 29, I had a 2-year-old and an infant and worship was not an undivided event any longer. Our church at the time kept the kids in the worship service. So Pastor would be on the stage leading worship, and I’d be cuddling a baby while chasing a 2-year-old. Life wasn’t easy, church wasn’t easy, and worship wasn’t easy. I had to worship differently. I had to find time at home, in my car, late at night, or in the few minutes where my son was building with bibles beside me and my daughter was fast asleep in her carseat. It wasn’t ideal, but I craved worship.

Now, at a (VERY) young age of 35, I find myself at our very own church, where my FOUR children are now sitting beside me as we worship. I’m a seasoned worshipper. I’m an educated worshipper. I am a lover of worship… yet, I am a distracted worshipper. To put into perspective of what I mean, this is how my worship experience went today… First song, I was snapping fingers on one hand with another hand raised in worship. I was shushing in between my words of affirmation to God. The 2nd song, I had my 2-year-old entertained, my (soon to be) 4-year-old looking for ‘Rs’ in the Old testament, my 7-year-old sitting at the end of the pew, and my 8-year-old beside me and I got one whole song to myself. I cried for it had been so long. I closed my eyes (with an occasional one eye opened ), asked God to speak, and reminded Him how much I love and adore Him, His presence, and the life He’s blessed me with. I was able to raise both hands, let loose and sing my heart out (oh, I’ve learned by now that if I want to sing loud, I should! God loves it, and worship is for Him, not the people in the pew in front of me!). It was heavenly. By the 3rd song I was giddy (it’s amazing what a 3 minute uninterrupted corporate worship time can do to a person). I was on such a “super”natural high that I continued worshipping as my 4-year-old applied fake fingernail polish on each of my fingers, blew them dry, then proceeded to put on tons of pretend makeup all over my face (which she also blew dry with her mouth). But oh, how heavenly it was to close my eyes, give God my attention in church. I loved it. My fake makeover and my spiritual one! By song 4, my 2-year-old was screaming because the 4-year-old walked in his row and touched a car. The 4-year-old was upset that she couldn’t play with his cars and my worship experience was over.

Worship evolves. It won’t always be the perfect scene, the number one song, sung in the perfect pitch. But it’s always available. I worship while loading the dishwasher. I worship in my shower, where kids can not come in. I worship in my bed that last 5 minutes before I drag my tired body out of bed. I let the vacuum stand alone for a bit while I step back, raise my hands, and pour out my worship on an almighty God. I worship in my living room with my 4 tiny worshippers. We dance, hold hands and shout the lyrics. We worship.

Don’t let life get in the way. Don’t let circumstances keep you away. Even if you have to worship with one eye open… just worship.
We love that our kids get to be a part of worship. I’m watching my 8-year-old enter in in his own special way. I get to see my daughter when she feels that spirit lead her. They are beginning their worshipping journey. And I pray they will write their own worship story, for worship is a lifeline. So, find some time, a quiet corner, or just set out to worship even through your distractions. Just Worship!

Simply_Worship

For the purposes of this post, I am using “Worship” with the meaning of the song related part of a church service. Yes, I believe that worship comes in many forms. When we read our Bible, when we pray, when we tithe, when we listen to a sermon we are worshipping, but I am specifically speaking about the song portion of a service.

Believe in the Magic

This is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the decorations, the parties, the full shopping malls (yes, I love a crowd). I love the family time, the excitement that comes with the anticipation and ultimately I love the meaning for this holiday, Christmas. We see in the Bible that Jesus has always been. He wasn’t merely born into existence. He has always been. And the idea that he left his eternal home, heaven, to dwell among us here on earth is such a sign of love to me.

I am so saddened when this sacred holiday is treated with such idolatry. Get ready to be offended… then take a deep breath and hear me out as I promise I speak in love (or type…), But the hype with Santa is, indeed, idolatry. Many people replace the true meaning of Christmas with the idol worship of Santa.

Idolatry:

  1. idol worship: the worship of idols or false gods
  2. extreme admiration: excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something

(according to the Bing Dictionary)

Many people think idolatry is when you bow down to a statue, or rub a fat man’s belly before eating chinese food… but God defines it throughout the Bible.

I liked what this website said about idolatry (http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/what-idolatry)

 In the King James Version of the Bible, there are three different words translated as “idolatry.” Each one ( teraphiym ,  kateidolos  and  eidololatria ) has at its core the concept of serving or worshipping something other than the one true God. 

So idolatry is not just venerating a statue, carving or painting. Idolatry occurs when we begin to value anything more than we value God. If we spend more time thinking about our hero than God, that’s idolatry. If our every thought is about the latest gadget or our personal appearance, that’s idolatry. If the first priority in our lives is our family, even that’s idolatry.

When God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3),  He wasn’t just talking about the imaginary deities that seem so ridiculous to us today. He was talking about  anything  that usurps His place as number one in our hearts”

I couldn’t have said it better. I’m not saying that these behaviors aren’t prevalent all year round. But it really roars it’s ugly head around this most wonderful, godly, and pure season.

Jesus came to earth to bring light. To be truth in physical form. He came representing truth, promoting truth, and proclaiming truth.(John 14:6). To celebrate His birth, parents lie to their children and promote Santa. Santa becomes the reason for the season. And without trying to sound like the cliché… this is a lie… Jesus is the reason for the season.

Our emphasis on Santa goes against so many concepts Jesus’ life represented.

  1.  Naughty or Nice… If your nice, you get a nice and wonderful gift from Santa… if you’re naughty, you get coal. Jesus says salvation is a gift and can not be earned. We were all sinners, we all fell short, and yet, we gave the biggest gift of all. His life. (Rom6:23) Santa promotes that we can someway earn gifts… and really, how many parents really withhold gifts when their kids are naughty? That’s just not following through on your threats, and basically that’s poor parenting. 😦

**And with this goes the faulty idea that good kids get gifts, bad ones don’t… but what if a family can’t afford gifts, but their kids are very well behaved? How does that play in? Are they being punished for the salary of their parents? Are wealthier families who are able to buy their kids bigger and more gifts families who have “better” kids than the family who can only afford a small toy car?

2.  Being “Nice”… Many have a little elf that reports back to Santa the behavior of the household (lies always breed more lies). We teach our kids to think about everything they do and be sure their actions, thoughts, and emotions are pleasing to God. We emphasize that we do all things for His glory, not to please men… yet Santa promotes (only at THIS time of year) to be good so you can make it to his Nice list. During the celebration of Jesus, and His life, children are asked to behave in a manner to please some lie.

3. anti santa

If this isn’t idolatry, I must know nothing. It seems at this time of year (again, I remind you is supposed to be a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, His life. ) so many people want to give credit to Santa. Sorry, Charlie Brown, but Santa had nothing to do with your blessings. He did not come to die for your sins, to give you the gift of salvation, and make a way for you to have a home in heaven. Santa broke into your home, ate your cookies, and left material gifts…  James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above”  No one NEEDS Santa. But everyone needs JESUS!
Credit is given where credit is not due. My husband works hard all year round. Mommy cuts coupons, buys second hand, and does without so we can bless our kids at Christmas time with a gift. Santa had nothing to do with it. Jesus blessed us financially to be able to afford to buy a gift for all 4 of our children (and each other most years), and we give HIM glory for that provision. Santa had nothing to do with it. We worship idols when we give Santa credit for what God clearly provides.

4. Lists a mile long. Children are encouraged to make lists of what they want. Commercials are increases so we can add to our never ending lists of what we want. me me me, more more more. Colossians 3:5 lists covetousness and greed as idolatry. I’m not saying it’s wrong to say you want this or that on occasion. What I’m focusing on the emphasis we put on this covetousness this time of year. Christmas has become so much about the gifts, and less and less about WHO THE GIFT IS.

Idolatry is when we put anything above God. When something has taken the place of God, it crosses over into idolatry. When we change the meaning of Christmas to mean something outside of the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we’ve made an idol. I’m aware not everyone is a Jesus lover, and for you, you have a different meaning for “Christmas Magic”. And to you, this entire message was not written. But for those of us who strive to live for Jesus. Let’s be very cautious of not making Santa above Jesus.

I am totally against lying to my children. I remember when I learned the truth about Santa. I sat and brought up all the different lies I was told about him, and I was devastated that so many adults lied to me, and some told some mighty elaborate lies.  Then I questioned what else they had lied about. If I had never seen Santa, but those I trusted told me he was real… how do I know they are telling the truth when they tell me that I need to just “believe” that Jesus is real?

My husband began to ponder the “lies” as acceptable. If adults were allowed to lie, surely he was allowed. If it was okay as long as no one got hurt, then he could begin to tell others lies… as long as no one got hurt. And basically neither of these scenarios  are what we’d choose to teach our children.  But even beyond the lie… Santa has become an idol. Many say it’s a fun game… I say it’s inconsistent to what we choose to teach our kids all year round.

We teach our kids about the Christmas magic.

Magic: the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

The birth of our Savior;  the one who came to save a flawed people was a supernatural experience. His power changed the course of events. When Mary brought forth life, that life extended into our lives today .He came to proclaim good news to the poor. He was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness  the prisoners. THAT IS MAGIC!

The world’s Christmas slogan is to “Believe”. When we believe in the falsities of Santa, we are worshipping idols. Use this season to teach your kids to believe in the true Magic. The birth and life of a sinless savior who gives what we do not deserve, who is the giver of all good and perfect things, and who gives us all we need, and many things we even want.  Don’t let the season get wrapped up in make believe, but instead be sure the light shines brighter on the Light. (the Way, and the Truth).

And Merry Christmas to you, I pray it’s the most joyous time of year for you all. I pray you all feel His Magic during this sacred season.jesus-the-true-light-of-christmas

 Feel free to leave me a comment, just know I speak in love, and would appreciate you do the same. 🙂