Category Archives: Worship

seeking is worship

Seeking is the greatest expression of praise and worship. By persistently seeking God, we declare that he is supremely desirable. To see God is to glorify God, that is, to declare his supreme worth. We might declare with our lips that God is worthy of all praise, but we demonstrate what is truly worth the most to us by what we pursue. The psalms in which people seek God, even from the most alienated positions, are truly psalms of praise and worship, perhaps even more so than those that explicitly make declarations of praise and worship.

Matthew Jacoby, Deeper Places, page 96.


appreciation and glorious grace

We naturally appreciate and thank God for what he has done for us. But it is too easy to be preoccupied with our benefits and overlook what God’s grace means to him. We are saved by grace because that is appropriate to God’s nature and purposes, bringing him glory as it brings us salvation. We are alerted to that at the very beginning of the epistle by the words “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6).

Walter l. Liefeld, Ephesians, page 87.


greatest expression of praise and worship

Seeking is the greatest expression of praise and worship. By persistently seeking God, we declare that he is supremely desirable. To seek God is to glorify God, that is, to declare his supreme worth. We might declare with our lips that God is worthy of all praise, but we demonstrate what is truly worth the most to us by what we pursue. The psalms in which people seek God, even from the most alienated positions, are truly psalms of praise and worship, perhaps even more so than those that explicitly make declarations of praise and worship.

Matthew Jacoby, Deeper Places, page 96.


decisions that don’t make sense…

It is imperative, then, that we behold the Person of Jesus as revealed through every page of Scripture from beginning to end. What we discover about Him will orient our lives around His light like planets around the blazing sun; inevitably, revelation of who He is will lead us to make decisions that don’t make sense unless we will be raised from the dead.

Stephanie Quick, To Trace a Rising Sun, page 19-20.


redirected songs

Sometimes I listen to old love songs and think they can be sung as hymns…

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Paul Simon, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, 1969.

 

I close my eyes at night wondering where would I be without you in my life.
Everything I did was just a bore, everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before.
But you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many ways,
I want to stop and thank you, baby Jesus, I just want to stop and thank you, baby Jesus.
How sweet it is to be loved by you, feels so fine. How sweet it is to be loved by you

Holland–Dozier–Holland, How Sweet It Is, 1964.

 

Take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can’t help falling in love with you
for I can’t help falling in love with you.

Elvis Presley, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, 1961

 

Fill my life with song
Let me sing forever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words
I love you

Bart Howard, Fly Me to the Moon, 1954

Sometimes you picture me–
I’m walking too far ahead
You’re calling to me, I can’t hear
What you’ve said–
Then you say–go slow–
I fall behind–
The second hand unwinds
If you’re lost you can look–and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you–I’ll be waiting
Time after time

Rob Hyman / Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time, 1983.

How can I tell you
That I love you
I love you
But I can’t think of right words to say
I long to tell you
That I’m always thinking of you
I’m always thinking of you
But my words just blow away
Just blow away
Cat Stevens, How Can I Tell You, 1971

a fountain of love

Eighteenth-century philosopher and preacher Jonathan Edward wrote a famous sermon titled “Heaven Is a World of Love,” which conveys the Christian hope with power. Edwards understands the ultimate Christian hope not to be in abstractions such as radiance and immortality but in relationship. At the center of heaven is not merely a generic God but the triune Christian God, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “who are united in infinitely dear and incomprehensible mutual love.” There is “an . . . eternal mutual holy energy between the Father and the Son, a pure holy act whereby the Deity becomes nothing but an infinite and unchangeable act of love.” Pouring love into one another in degrees of unimaginable power and joy makes this three-in-one God into a “fountain of love.” In heaven this fountain “is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it,” and so it “overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p 168.


most romantic places on earth

The two most romantic places on earth are the prayer closet and the pulpit.

Francis Chan, at Mission Connexion Northwest 2018
quoting someone he couldn’t exactly remember.


the one who fundamentally cares about relationships

If we let the Bible form how we think about him – if we let God is Father become that first thought – then we will see him as a God who fundamentally cares about relationships. We will see him as a personal being, not a distant deity out of touch with our lives. He is a God who has never done anything arbitrary. He has never done anything out of an isolated, self-centered will. Instead, He is a God who is involved. He is a God who, in his essence, is aware. He is a God who takes an interest in what comes into your mind when you first think of him.

Relationship is at the heart of who he is, the God triune – the Father who loves his Son in the fellowship of the Spirit.

Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 19


i am with myself and not with thee

Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot,
And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!
My soul that was at rest now resteth not,
For I am with myself and not with thee;
Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn,
Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity;
Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.

 

George MacDonald, A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of An Old Soul, p. 6

Published in 1880.


when i was jesus

The flash of Judas’ eyes. People being healed. John, my beloved disciple, standing next to my mother, Mary. The calming of the storm. The confused look on Mary’s face in the garden. The realization of the truth overwhelming Thomas’s doubt. I saw it all – with my own eyes. You see, I used to be Jesus.

Now before you ring the psychiatric department, let me explain. I was active in a very large church with a vision to present the gospel to our community during the Easter season, so we regularly produced rather elaborate Easter productions. Since I was tall, dark and bearded, with some acting experience, I was chosen to play Jesus.

I realized that this was a great privilege, and threw myself into studying the Gospels and other literature to properly portray Jesus. As an actor, along with just learning lines and blocking, I tried as best I could to “become” Jesus to properly portray him to the audience. Little did I realize then what a lasting influence being Jesus would have on my life.

Of course, there are the many fond memories, since working on a major production brings people very close together. Imagine a room full of fifty adult men all trying to put on Queen-sized, control-top pantyhose for the first-time (my wife’s idea – it was much less messy than leg make-up.) Or the rehearsal where I, as Jesus, was a few seconds late for my resurrection appearance. Our pastor, the narrator, ad-libbed “and as they were gathered together Jesus came and appeared among them saying . . . ‘Sorry I’m late, boys!’” Then there was the rehearsal of the calming of the storm scene when Peter fell out of the boat. And who would have guessed that an off-stage romance would lead to Mary Magdalene marrying Judas!

But this past Good Friday, as a small group of believers gathered to remember our Lord’s passion, a flood of strong, significant memories nearly overwhelmed me. And I realized that I had a unique perspective of the Lord’s Passion Week. These are some of the things I remember from when I was Jesus.

As I broke the bread and passed the cup, I realized that I would never again see these twelve men before I died. They were talking among themselves, some laughing, some quiet, but, oh, how I longed to make eye contact with each one of them as they took the bread and wine. Some did, but others were too busy to notice me. Oh, how that burned in my soul! And those with whom I did make eye contact . . . didn’t seem to understand.
Judas was sitting just to my left. He was talking and enjoying the food like all the others. Until I handed him the bread. He was smiling as I handed it to him, but his smile faded, and as he rose his eyes flashed and his smile had turned to a sneer. The utter contempt that he felt for me at that moment was written clearly on his face. As he ran from the room, I wondered if there was anything else that I could have done for Judas. But it was too late now, there was no turning back. The grand scheme had been set in motion.

During Christ’s crucifixion, the nails were driven not through the palms of His hands, as Hand Ligamentsis typically depicted. Bearing the full weight of His body, the nail would have ripped through the flesh and of his hand and He would have fallen from the cross. Rather, the nails were driven through what we now call the wrist. You can feel the depression in the front and back, just below the heel of your hand. By driving the nails here, the bone and ligaments would be strong enough to hold the weight of the human body indefinitely. This small depression also happens to be where the ulnar nerve leads to the hand. As the nail drove through and destroyed the nerve, the white-hot pain would shoot at least to the elbow, perhaps as far as the shoulder.

As I hung on the cross, even through the pain I saw those who had gathered. So many were jeering and taunting. But I sought out and locked onto the familiar faces, two weeping women to my left. Further back, I spotted John – he was here with me! And he had his arm around my mother, Mary. I could hardly look at her, the horror and agony on her face – I felt such shame. I was bloodied, undressed, helpless. Why did she have to see me like this?

My breathing became more labored as I tired. Each breath I had to push up with my legs to pull the air into my lungs. The mind becomes very active, many thoughts flash by as death approaches. And there was the realization that I was alone, so alone. My Father had abandoned me! The weight, the pain, the shame were mine alone. And my Father had left. Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabacthani! Why? Why have you forsaken me? I need you more than ever now!

Father, look at them – they have no idea what they are doing. Forgive them.

Into Your hands I commit my spirit! The victory is won! And I hung my head in death. The silence pressed upon me. It was as if no one were breathing in this whole great room. I could hear the weeping, the wailing of the women as they took my body down from the cross and carried me to my grave.
Paragraph separatorLater, I saw Mary walk slowly, hesitantly toward the tomb where they had laid her Lord. She had been crying. I stepped out where she could see me, but she didn’t recognize me. She fell at my feet confused, despondent. She looked at me with tear-filled eyes and asked if I knew where they had taken His body. I just smiled. And I felt that wonderful expectancy when a loved one is about to open a special gift that you know they are going to love. That moment of tension, wanting to prolong it just a bit longer in anticipation of knowing the joy that was about to come. I simply said her name, “Mary!” The shock, the surprise as she looked at me again, but this time she saw! She knew me!
Paragraph separatorThomas swore he would not believe I was alive again unless he saw me with his own eyes and was able to touch my wounds. So, I came and stood before him and gently held out my hands to him. In an instant, I watched as he recognized me. I saw the confusion followed by the fear. Then he fell on his face before me. I was filled with joy because this was right – this was exactly what Thomas needed.

In the same way, Jesus is watching you. He is studying you, hoping you will notice Him. He wants you to see Him, to respond to Him, to see you understand who He is and adore Him. May you see Jesus today. May your eyes be opened to Him more and more each day and may you bring Him great joy!