What is Worship

Ever since attending my first National Worship Leader’s Conference, I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain my experiences during the worship sessions to others. Just prior to this year’s conference, a Facebook friend posted a link to a ‘Chuck Knows Church’ video about worship. Even though I find this series of videos ‘cheesy’, I really appreciate how worship was defined in this video.

According to Chuck, the word worship is derived from the words ‘wore than’ meaning to declare how much something is worth. Woerthscipe is the Old English spelling of our modern word – worship. Thus, worship is an action in which we declare God’s worthiness since GOD is a the top of the worth chart.

The actions to declare God’s worth were described by three Greek words:

  • Sebomai — to lift up high or to exalt
  • Proskuneo — to bow down
  • Latreuo — to serve

Thus, when worshippers lift their hands in praise, they are practicing Sebomai. When worshippers bow down as they enter the sanctuary (pew) or as they pray, they are practicing Proskuneo. When worshippers go out into the community to help the homeless or disadvantaged, they are practicing Latreuo.

As an action, truly ascribing worth to God means that our minds, actions, emotions and will are all engaged. When I forget about what those around me will think and truly focus on God and all that he has done for me by lifting Him up, reaching out to Him, bowing down to Him and serving Him I get a glimpse of what it will be like in the heavenly realms.

Who is my neighbor?

We all probably know Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable. But I often miss the mark when it comes to applying this to my own life. As the political climate in Kansas is turning against public education, I’ve been led to thinking about the issue of public education in terms of this passage of scripture.

Luke 10:29 says: The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?

When I apply this passage to public education, I have to ask myself “are these children my neighbor?” Children have no choice about where they live or their family circumstances. Is the child of a single parent struggling to make ends meet my neighbor? Is the child a member of a family dealing with unemployment or large medical bills my neighbor? Is the child of a migrant worker my neighbor? Is the child who can’t speak English my neighbor? Is the child who suffered a debilitating illness and now lives with severe disabilities my neighbor? Is the child living with his/her grandparent my neighbor? Is the child getting on the school bus at 6:30 in the morning to get to the nearest school by 8 am my neighbor? All of these children are important to God. As a Christian, shouldn’t they be important to me?

Jesus answered the man with the story of the Good Samaritan and then asked the man, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”  Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-38)

When it comes to education in Kansas, many are arguing against equatable funding of public education. Some are even arguing for the privatization of education. If I were to go along with either of those arguments, I would be saying that the child in that home struggling to make ends meet doesn’t deserve access to education. Or, I would be saying children of migrant workers, even if they were born in the United States (and thus citizens), don’t deserve an education since they can’t speak English. Or, I would be saying children with severe disabilities don’t deserve an education tailored to their needs. Or, would I be saying that children in rural Kansas don’t deserve a local school even if it is small so they don’t have to ride the school bus for more than an hour?

The Samaritan showed mercy by tending to the needs of the traveler and even paid for some of his care. If I assume the role of the Samaritan in regards to the education of children, shouldn’t I be concerned with tending to their individual needs? Isn’t caring for the educational needs of the disabled the intent of special education  programs in our public schools? Isn’t caring for the educational needs of non-English speakers the intent of the English as Second Language program in our public schools? Isn’t caring for the nutritional needs of children living in poverty the intent of the Free/Reduced lunch programs in our public schools? Doesn’t the child living in rural Kansas deserve the same access to an education as the child living in Johnson County?

If I assume the role of the Samaritan,  shouldn’t I be willing to help pay for the education — the equitable education — of these children. Isn’t this what Christ is commanding me to do when he said, “Now go and do the same.”?

These children are my neighbors. They deserve an education no matter their family situation or where they live in the state.

Aren’t  they our neighbors?

Aren’t we all called to show mercy by supporting public education, an equatable education?

Challenged to Give

As Christmas rapidly approaches, this morning’s sermon issued a challenge to give — not just a little but sacrificially as happened during the first Christmas.

  • Mary and Joseph gave up their reputations, — Can I risk mine for Christ?
  • Mary and Joseph gave obedience — willingly despite feelings. — Am I obedient to God’s call?
  • The shephards and wise men gave their worship. — Can my lifestyle be a reflection of worship? Do I willingly give credit to God?
  • Mary and Joseph trusted God despite their fear? Do I trust God with my life?
  • The wise men gave God time. Am I willing to spend time with God on a daily basis?
  • The wise men gave God resources. Am I willing to tithe and to support those in need?
  • God gave sacrificially — He gave his son on the cross for my sins. Am I willing to sacrifice for Him?

Changing Terminology

Should I say I’m going to church on Sundays — OR should I be saying I’m going to worship?

Going to Church

  • go to be entertained
  • passive participant
  • go away feeling proud — I was in church today

Going to Worship

  • Go to praise God – thru
    • song
    • prayer
    • tithing
  • Go to be in communion with God — thru
    • prayer
    • Holy Communion
    • song
  • Go to support God’s work — thru
    • missions
    • tithing
  • Active participant
  • Go away
    • Humble
      • know own faults
      • know only God can change me
    • Hungry
      • to learn more by reading the Bible and listening for God to speak
      • to be in community by participating in a small group and/or Bible study
      • to be in worship again next week

Lord, I want to worship You today.

Being Anonymous

In a recent conversation with a pastor, the issue of declining worship attendance was brought up. Having attended all sizes of churches, I believe one of the factors behind declining worship attendance is the lack of community in the larger church. In a large church both my presence and my absence can go unnoticed — I’m just anonymous. Thus, it is easy to be a drop-in worshiper — attending at my convenience. However, in a small church, I’m not anonymous — I’m known by name and people genuinely care about both my absence and my presence. For someone somewhat shy like me, it is hard to make a personal connection with those around me during the passing of the peace. In a small church, not only do I get the chance to know others by name but I’m not allowed to remain anonymous. I believe that somehow, this sense of  ‘small church community’ needs to be developed within worship services at large churches. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to develop that sense of community.

New Understanding of Bullying

Over the past year, God has allowed me to develop a new understanding of bullying.

  • Bully may be someone close in life
  • Others may not see it as bullying
  • Cyberbullying is for real — and can be private communication
  • Bullied may not want to force others to choose between themselves and the bully
  • Silence builds a wall separating bullied from others

Even though I have a new understanding of bullying, I still have no answers on how to deal with it.

 

Where do I live?

Lessons from the Beatitudes

from sermon by Jonathan Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist Church

Beatitude

  • supreme blessedness
  • Heightened happiness
  • Be attitude – the attitude I should have

Blessed

  • Divinely given contentment and peace

Poor in Spirit

  • Realize that without Christ I am totally destitute

Mourn

  • Broken hearted over sin in my life

Meek

  • Submit to God

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

  • Deep desire to know God and His Word

Merciful

  • Forgiving – Life is too short to hold grudges

Pure in Heart

  • Selfless motives
  • Doing right thing

See

  • Optimal view of God
  • Nothing blocks view of God — No sin, no selfishness

Peacemakers

  • Desperately desire to see people make peace with God

Persecuted

  • Living in kingdom of God is not easy

Where do I call home?