Worship: More Than a Song

Worship More Than a Song

Have you ever visited a church that did things a lot differently than you’re used to?

Did it make you feel at all uncomfortable?

Recently, I started going to a new church that is a lot different than what I’m used to. And I’ll admit, I felt really, really uncomfortable the first two or three times I went.

But, through that discomfort, God showed me some things about how people tend to react to those things that make them uncomfortable.

More specifically, I want to talk about one of the areas in a church service that garners the most common negative reactions; Worship.

In today’s modern churches the flashing lights, loud music and professionally developed intro videos isn’t something that takes people by surprise anymore. After all, it is the modern way to do things.

I actually used to go to one of these churches when I was in high school but decided to start attending the church I grew up in again (a different church than I mentioned above) because it was a lot closer to home…less of a drive, less money spent on gas…you get the picture!

I digress…

The difference between the music styles between these two churches were like night and day.

One was clean cut and polished to a fine, perfect finish and the other was unvarnished, and…not perfect.

And I was so taken in by the glitz and glamour of the church I had been going to that I became very unhappy with the way this other church did things.

This unhappiness led me to criticize and critique everything in my mind; “the music isn’t modern enough…it’s too slow…it doesn’t have enough beat…etc, etc…”

This went on for a few months until one day, I decided to verbalize my criticisms to my dad. And the response he gave me is one that will always stick with me.

“Kristen, no matter where you go, there’ll be something you don’t necessarily fully like or agree with. But you have the ability-and responsibility-to decide if it’s so important that you’re gonna let it get in the way of your worshiping God…”

Heavy, isn’t it?

Modern churches-and the people in them- have gotten so hung up on the music and putting on a show for those in attendance that the people have completely forgotten- or missed-the whole point of it all.

Worship isn’t about the people. Worship isn’t even about the music. Worship is about giving God the honor and glory he deserves.

What Worship is about

The original Greek word for worship is proskuneo (pronounced: pros-koo-neh-o). 

This word that they used is a verb; an action. It literally means, “I go down on my knees to worship”.

You see, the modern “worship” we practice-singing a few songs of praise- is only a small part of what true, full worship is.

Worship is pouring your entire self out before God. It’s falling before God in awe, seeking his face and his will and yes, it’s praising him in song.

There’s a song, Clear The Stage, by an artist called Jimmy Needham that says so much in so few lines that make up the chorus.

You can sing all you want to.

Yes, you can sing all you want to.

You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong…

Worship is more than a song…

One Psalmist wrote it this way,

“Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God…” Psalm 95:6-7

Maybe you aren’t used to the way a church service is. Maybe the music isn’t as fast (or slow) as you like. But what is all comes down to is this: Are you going to hold back from praising the God that created you just because something doesn’t fit “your style”?

When you think about it, it’s actually an incredibly self-centered act.

When you say “I’m not going to worship because it doesn’t fit my tastes”, you might as well be saying, “Sorry God, you’re not worthy of my worship today because I don’t like the (  fill in the blank  ).”

Pretty intense, huh?

There’s a somewhat older song most Christians have heard called The Heart of Worship that has reminded me time and time again that worship isn’t about me-it’s about him.

It says that very thing right in the song:

“I’m coming back to the heart of worship cause it’s all about you. It’s all about you, Jesus.”

Let me share with you the prayer I say when I find myself stuck focusing on the parts of a service I don’t like:

“Lord, help me push past all the stuff and help me worship you with a pure heart. Help me remember it’ about you-not me.”

A Prayer For When You're Distracted in worship

Every time I say this little prayer, God takes me into a deep, intimate worship experience.

Yes, sometimes it takes me praying this a few times, but God always answers!

I want to challenge you, next time you feel like “sitting it out” because of something you don’t like, pray this prayer-or one like it!

You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how God will show up!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

Why The Christian Life is A Lot like Play-Doh

The Christian Life is A Lot like Play-Doh

Last summer, I was at one of my best friends’ house, talking with her mom and though I don’t remember what about, I do remember saying “But I don’t like change!”

To which she replied, “Oh honey. the Christian walk is all about change. Changing from a lifestyle of sin to one that follows after Christ; Changing from living in the flesh to living in Christ!”

I’ll admit, at first, her response didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want to be “put in my place”. 

It wasn’t really until the last couple of years since graduating high school that I’ve had to deal with change.

I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. Went to the same church, same school, same…EVERYTHING! 

Change? Yeah…not really something I experienced.

I’m a planner. I’ve planned everything from my future college, future wedding, future family, future home, vacations… I. Like. Plans.

They make me feel safe, comfortable and like there’s a measure of continuity. 

Most of all, I really don’t like when my plans are changed-even if it’s just going to Starbucks…don’t mess with my plans! They’re my plans and I want it.

And then I realized that that is just the problem…

They’re my plans and the things want and then I don’t leave any room for Christ and his plan and the things he wants for my life.

 ” “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ” Isaiah 55:8-9 (Emphasis Added)

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Have you ever heard the saying “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken/bent out of shape?”

It may not be from the Bible, but it is so true!

The Christian walk is a lot like play-doh. When it’s soft, it’s mold-able; the creator can make it into what they see fit. But, if it dries out, it gets hard and the creator can’t do anything with it.

The Christian walk

When we resist change, our hearts harden like dried out play-doh and God can’t mold us into his image. But, when we are flexible, God can mold our hearts and use us to further his kingdom!

No, change isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it means stepping out into the unknown. But, it also means having the opportunity to trust Christ and that what he’s doing and his plans are greater than ours. And this, in turn, will lead to a deeper more intimate relationship with him!

Have you been rejecting the change that God has been trying to make in your life?

Take a minute and pray that God will soften your heart and help you trust him that these changes-whether big or small-are in your best interest!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

Why We Pray

Why We Pray

Over the last while, I have been trying to figure out some things. More specifically, where I’m supposed to go in life.

I was actually supposed to go to college this year however because of my severe allergies I wasn’t able to go. 

Long story short, not going made me start questioning my whole life; “Where am I gonna go to school? When am I going to go? Will I ever actually figure out what kind of schooling God wants me to have?”

The more I questioned, the more frustrated I grew. 

You may have read in my eBook that when I graduated high school I had convinced myself that everything would just fall into place because of how hard high school was. I thought God would give me an easy ascendance into adulthood…wishful thinking! 

Test after test has come and each one has stretched and challenged me more than the last. And just when I thought I was about to break, God gave me exactly the amount of strength I needed to make it through.

The crazy thing is that God almost always does the exact same thing to give me strength. He reminds me of one thing I should already be doing, but often times forget to be doing: Praying. 

To bring my heart to him and seeking him for guidance.

The first reminder came when he kept directing Jeremiah 29:13 my way. The New Living Translation (NLT) reads it this way:

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Emphasis added)

More recently, as I was sitting at my newly refinished desk, I prayed, “God, speak to me today. I’m sick of reading my Bible and feeling like I’ve not learned anything from you.” 

And, as I opened my Bible up to where I left off, I read Luke 11: 5-10

“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

As I read this, God gently spoke to me. He reminded me that he wants to guide me and to fulfill my heart’s desires, but first, I need to be relentless, shameless-as the passage says- in pursuing him and knocking upon the door asking him to guide my footsteps.

“Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”  (Emphasis added)

He doesn’t promise to give us whatever we want, cause, let’s be honest a lot of the things we want, aren’t always good for us. But, he does promise to give us what we need!

Here’s the thing, it is so easy to pray and thank God when everything is going good. It’s in the bad that it’s hard. 

Why?

I think it’s due to a couple of things:

First, because we know that God may not take away the pain.

This leads us to reason number 2: We are so enamored with the pain, so swallowed up with how bad things are in the moment, that we don’t think that God could be letting the bad happen because he’s going to use it for his glory later.

But, isn’t that exactly why we pray and seek him? So that he uses the bad for his glory? So that he can reveal himself in a deeper way to us through the pain? And, to take us into a deeper level of relationship with him?

What are some things in your life you need to seek God about?

Or, what are some things you sought after him for in the past? How did he answer you?

I would love to hear! Drop me a line (in the comments or even a personal message if you don’t feel comfortable sharing for all to see!)

XoXo,

~Kristen~

 

The Heart of Modesty: Modesty in Action

Modesty in Action

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”          1 Timothy 2:9-10

At the end of the first post for this series, we read proverbs 4:23; that everything we do comes from what is in our hearts.

That means how we act is directly caused by the state our heart is in.

Let me give you an example:

I’m one of those people who tends to hold onto the bad things people do to or say about me. I let my heart become so full of anger, bitterness and resentment and, because of it, I end up treating people those same things that I’ve let into my heart-whether I mean to or not.

It’s like a cup…the more you fill it, the fuller it becomes and inevitably, if you keep pouring into it, whatever you’re pouring will begin to overflow out of it.

Have you ever seen someone go out of their way to get attention by acting out? Maybe their being overly loud, making exaggerated gestures or movements with their hands or body? Or, maybe they had an emotional outburst that drew more than a little attention to themself?

All of these things are caused by what is in a person’s heart.

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are a wonderful, God-given gift! Emotions are what lead us to take action and have sympathy and care about others.

But, emotions gone unchecked-whether happy or sad- can end up leading us down sinful paths that lead to hurt and ruin.

-Emotions gone unchecked,

Remember the questionnaire I wrote about in Part 1 of the series?

One of the things I asked those who took part is “What does a Modest Woman look like to you?”  

Here are a couple of answers that I received that so perfectly agree with what this article is saying:

  1. “I think modesty had a lot of different aspects or meanings, it includes how she acts as well as dresses. But a truly modest woman will act modest and dress… Ultimately, its more than physical appearance, but a truly modest woman will recognize the need to dress modestly as well. To me a modest woman is very balanced emotionally, does not demand attention from others, in any way, and is quietly confident in herself and strong.”

  2. “To me a modest woman still has a sense of mystery to her. She doesn’t throw her emotions around for everyone to hear and see. She doesn’t get acceptance by having to have the spotlight…”

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading in my Bible and read about a man who had invited Jesus over for lunch and Jesus sat and watched everyone try to sit in the seat of honor. 

This was Jesus’ response;

“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” Luke 14:12-14

Another such verse puts it this way:

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

When you are doing something, what is in your heart? To bring glory to yourself, or to God?

“So if you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything to honor God.”                      1 Corinthians 10:31 (Emphasis added)

Some of you may know, that I love to sing, and grew up singing specials in church.

As I’ve gotten older, I started singing more, and the more I sang the more compliments I got. Add to that trying to “bust out” of the shell people put my in of who they thought I was and trying to be my own person, I started singing more unconventional (Christian hip-hop) songs at church.

Well, last summer, I realized that my singing was slowly becoming less and less about him, and more and more about me.

So, I took the summer off and fasted singing in front of crowds. And you know what? Since that time, I experience and encounter Christ in deeper, more intimate ways during worship.

Challenge yourself today, and ask yourself what the motives behind whatever you’re doing are. Are they for personal glory, or Christ’s glory?

Finally, as with the last two parts of the series, here are a couple of my favorite modest Autumnal outfits! The olive t-shirt dress is from Kosher Casual-an adorable online shop full of gorgeous and affordable modest clothing all the way from The Holy Land of Israel! (An Added Bonus!) The rest of the clothes are from various stores such as Walmart and Giant Tiger!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Autumn! I get to start wearing a darker lipstick three-quarter sleeve shirts (and Dresses)! Orange (it feels strange wearing orange toned clothes any other time of the year!)

And Don’t forget about our Giveaway of two books-donated by Pure Freedom Ministries– and a special made, one-of-a-kind- notebook designed by yours truly! Keep an eye out because the giveaway is coming up right around the corner! Keep an eye out for how to enter!

 

XoXo,

~Kristen~