Worship is such a hot topic today.

We talk about styles of worship. We talk about methods of worship. We talk about ancient/modern worship. We talk about contemporary versus traditional worship. There is the hymn crowd and the alternative crowd, emerging worship and sacramental worship.

We gear services towards worship styles in order to tailor worship to the needs of the congregation. Worship music comes in all flavors. The volume of worship music being produced annually allows for a treasure trove of options for the modern worshiper.

But in all of the debate, discussion, and experimentation, I wonder if perhaps we have forgotten what the heart of worship was really meant to be. The heart of worship is not found in styles, rhythms, or cadence. Nor is it found in lyrics, orchestrations, or multi-media presentations. The heart of worship from Genesis to Revelation has always been summed up in one word: SACRIFICE.

Mike Atkins
From : Perspectives on Worship

Get Your Armor On

Bottom line: The enemy is after your soul. Scary? It’s just truth. He seeks to destroy all that is good. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes or what hoops he has to jump through. The chance of taking you down is the fuel that keeps him motivated. However, most of us live in a bubble that feels relatively safe. Our minds are rarely on the fact that a roaring lion is on the outskirts of our safety net. It’s not that we should live in fear.  But we must be mindful of an evil presence that desires our worship and our very lives. This isn’t a middle school scuffle we’re talking about. This isn’t some tall tale. This is a life-or-death fight to the finish. (The Message Ephesians 6:10-12) Apathy. Neglect. Carelessness. Fear. Anger. Passiveness. Busyness. Pride. Lust. Cheating. Addictions. When these words are present in our life, we’re inviting a powerful and persuasive spirit into our safe area.

We MUST use every weapon available. The shield of faith. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the spirit. Right about now you may be picturing a group of 1st graders at a little Christian school singing an out of tune, cheesy song. Hear this; God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. We MUST fill our minds and hearts daily with His Word so when it’s all over we are still on our feet. (The Message Ephesians 6: 13-18)

Be shaken! Not fearful! But shaken! If you aren’t then read this again and again until you feel the seriousness of the situation. It’s time to get our armor on.


Change Your Worship

Recently, at 38,000 feet comfortably seated in 15D, a thought crossed my mind. Am I any closer to God than when I’m on the ground? Probably not!  But on days when I fly I pray on the way to the airport and while I’m waiting to board and as I’m walking down the Jetway and once I’m seated and while we’re going down the runway and when we are finding our way through the clouds and only then do I finally relax once the bumps subside.

This is similar to the way we live life isn’t it? Trouble comes and we stress. We pray. We worry some more. We say Jesus a whole lot. Then when things calm down we go about our business as if nothing ever happened. That is until the next storm blows in.

Why is this?

It’s about our relationship and we have the capacity to change it. But it’s probably one of the most difficult things we’ll ever attempt.

When I fly I feel closer to him not because I’m 6 miles off the ground. I feel closer to Him because I’m focused on Him.

If you’ve ever attempted anything challenging and succeeded you know what I’m talking about. Running a  1/2 or full marathon takes courage, persistence and focus. Relationships need love, persistence and focus. Learning to play an instrument takes practice and focus. Worship is the same. It takes desire, surrender and focus.

But, how often do we focus? Really focus on God? We sing songs to Him in church but many times before we find our focus the song is over. One reason is, we usually come to church ‘to’ worship instead of ‘with’ worship. But what would happen if we found our way to His presence more often? Daily? I assure you it’s easier said than done.

Would you like to try it?

I encourage you to find time this week where you can focus all your attention on Him. Once you make time for focused time with God your relationship will grow and you’ll develop a desire to be in His presence daily. And, I promise that will change your worship.

One thing better than an iPhone!

My parents don’t have an iPhone. Actually, they just bought a computer. However, they have something only few people have ever achieved. 50 years of marriage! It’s not been a perfect marriage, but…

Anything you do for 50 years and remain happy about it takes work.

Since attending their celebration I’ve thought a lot about what is needed to hit the same mark. It takes hope. Persistence. Forgiveness. Lots of laughs. Hugs. More smiles than frowns. Sharing. Honesty. A walk on the beach. Lots of kisses. Going on dates. Planning a few vacations together. Integrity. Giving to those in need. Getting involved in your church. Making friends. Being vulnerable with each other. Sharing your dreams. Walking through tough moments together. Becoming dependent on God more than each other. Prayer. Worship. Singing. Loving one another. Respect. Encouragement. Support. Acting crazy on purpose.

I’m not great at everything on the list yet but my parents 50th reminded me how important friends and family are and what it takes to make dreams come true.

How about you? What are your dreams? Is there something that has made life work for you that’s not on my list?

What I Learned In California

When I landed in California for a recent worship retreat, the first thing I noticed was the weather that seems to never go out of style. No humidity. Clear sky. Beautiful landscape. Need I say more? After a full evening on the opening night, I don’t remember much once I found my room and my head found the comfy pillows. On Saturday our day was packed but one of my favorite parts was listening to the senior pastor unpack some thoughts on being a worshiper. I also found out I love turkey sandwiches on sourdough bread with cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayonnaise. Here’s a recap from that morning devotion:

It’s easy to get sidetracked thinking that worship’s big moment in our life is when the stage is full of musicians. Fact is, worship has not as much to do about music. But it has everything to do with our heart. I know we talk about worship being a lifestyle. There are plenty of quotes on Twitter and posts on Facebook and blogs written daily on the subject. And, I know for the most part we believe it. However, it’s another thing to live it out. Our weekend service should actually be an overflow of what our week has been like. But when our weekly schedule or lack of planning shapes our life of worship, we arrive at church feeling worn out and unwilling to participate.  Worship becomes sporadic at best. We must find a solution! Agreed?

Finding our way to God’s presence each day is a must!

We can’t do life on our own strength. For those in leadership; including staff, choir, worship team, band, worship leader, artist, orchestra, media etc. we aren’t exempt.

Pastor went on to say, we need a God touch not a production! It’s easy to get off balance trying to copy every guitar riff or amazing vocal lick and before we know it we quickly become the object of focus instead of God. We must find ways to take the focus off ourselves and point people to the Creator of all things. Just going through the motions or spin we’ve learned over the years won’t do much to build our connection with God either. Worship takes relationship. It takes our heart connecting to God’s heart. Sometimes we just need to be reminded. Where are you with all this?



Age Doesn’t Mean Much.

God has a purpose and plan for your life. Have you heard someone say that? It happens to be from one of the most quoted scriptures in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 29:11) So what’s your purpose? What’s God’s plan for you? If you’re reading this and think you’re not seasoned yet or it’s just too late, think again. Age doesn’t mean much to God. He’s just looking for a willing heart. He has always worked through people who wouldn’t have been chosen first. A young boy watching over his father’s sheep. A teenage girl who became the most important and talked about woman in history. Then there was Noah. He was five or six hundred years old when he built the ark. Still think you’re too old? How about Abraham? Sarah? The list goes on and on. What are you passionate about? What gift has God given you? Are you living it out? Or is something standing in the way? Is it fear? The unknown? Your schedule? I know, there’s always something! Regardless, God has a specific purpose for you being here today.

Sometimes we get off-track thinking we’re supposed to do some grand thing that exceeds everyone’s expectation. Actually our purpose may be simply living out Christ in front of our neighbor, co-worker or family member. It may not be building an ark or pastoring a church or growing a company that does good things. It could be teaching children in Sunday school. Or maybe someone needs to see your smile. No one has the smile you do. And, your laugh is infectious. Don’t stop! What if you paid for someone’s lunch today? Or, bake some homemade cookies and give a dozen to a neighbor down the street. You have the power to change the direction of someone’s day. Do you get my point? You have gifts regardless of your age. Question is, are you using them? Get started today!

Breathe This In

This isn’t meant to be trivial or smart. As I was thinking about what to share I realized I didn’t have anything stronger to say than the sentence below. So, this will likely be one of the shortest but most important blogs you’ll read all day. Ready?

Jesus Loves You. (John 3:16)

It’s Time To Purge

After a long week of moving Rubbermaid’s and boxes we are finally home in a cabin more than 100 years old. I should say I wouldn’t wish moving on anyone but during this move we learned something really important. When we started packing my wife asked, “Should we keep this?” at least 50 times. My reply was usually, “Of course we want to keep it, we may need it”; whatever IT happened to be. Then 5 days before the movers were scheduled to arrive and after 40 boxes had been neatly packed and taped, I met Ken. Ken was with the company we chose to move and store our heavier items and remaining boxes we couldn’t lift or take to the cabin. He had come to give us an estimate.

The first thing I noticed when Ken stepped out of his car was a big smile. Then, after a brief introduction, we walked in the garage which held some of our already packed boxes. The next thing out of his mouth was, “You need to purge”. What?! I didn’t hire this company to tell me to get rid of stuff. They were supposed to move it. But I listened. He convinced me we were holding on to stuff we didn’t need or really want for that matter. I tried telling him we had already given a few things away but he said we still had a ways to go. When he left I called my wife and told her what Ken had suggested. I was surprised when she agreed we should start purging right away. Maybe they were in this together?

Nonetheless, we went through every box and started a give away and throw away pile.  Our boxes of neatly packed books went from 16 to 5. And it didn’t stop there. Before we were done 1 couch, 1 grill, 200 beanie babies, 8 sheets of uncut NASCAR trading cards I’ve kept for 20 years, bags of clothes, 13 pairs of shoes, 2 basketballs, 3 helmets, artwork, hundreds of CD’s, our kitchen table, a piece of furniture someone decided to call a Highboy, a nightstand, a freezer, movies, unopened cassettes, 1 large T.V., our front loading washer/dryer, a 7-foot Christmas tree, boxes of dishes, 2 beds, 5 pillows, a weed-eater, 1 electric hedge trimmer, a rake, a shovel, tools I’ve never used, lamps, mirrors and several chairs all found a new home. Funny thing is, I don’t miss any of it. We’ve since discussed a few items that we should have added to the list. I’ll admit we’ve also looked around for a couple things that we now remember giving away. It’s all good. It’s just stuff.

Fact is, our spiritual life can look similar at times. We hold on to a grudge and box it up should we need to remind ourselves of a past hurt. Talking about others becomes like dust that accumulates slowly turning us into bitter, old people. Secrets stay hidden, until they end up cluttering and ruining our lives. Why? It’s just what people seem to be good at.

I say it’s time to purge. It’s time to do an inventory and rid ourselves of anything that comes between us and God. Sometimes it’s our stuff that we think so highly of. Sometimes it’s our attitude or a car. Whatever it is, release it and walk towards God. The closer you get to Him the more your stuff will seem insignificant and the more He will become clearly the most important thing in your life. While we’re at it though, let’s give some more stuff away. I’m starting with a leather jacket I haven’t worn in 2 years.

Until next time,




God Is Singing Over You

Can you imagine hearing God sing over you? Can you picture Him rejoicing over you? What must that sound like? Look like? Take a moment and close your eyes and imagine. Allow your mind to picture the God of the Universe dancing, rejoicing and singing. Over you! Several years ago I didn’t know a verse existed that mentioned God singing. But tucked away in the third chapter of Zephaniah, verse 17, it was there all along.

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow. Think about it. Why would God, who is perfect, sing and rejoice over us when we aren’t? I know we’re his children but as kids I don’t think any of us remember our parents singing and rejoicing over us right after we disappointed them. Do we? I love that His promise isn’t based on what we do. It’s just what He does.

This blog is purposefully short. It doesn’t come with 3 points and a prayer. It’s simply here to remind you of the great truth found in this verse. If it’s the first time you’ve been introduced to the idea that God sings, welcome to another one of God’s blessings.

Put your trust in Him and know that even when you’ve had a tough day, or when you’ve failed him, He still sings over you. Here’s a link to a song written from this scripture. It’s also a free download if you’d like.

Our Worship is a Journey

The scripture is full of powerful examples on the subject of worship. One of my favorite passages takes place in Genesis 22. It’s where God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar. Unbelievable! What really catches my attention is what Abraham said in verse 5 when he finally arrived at the place God had led him. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  Wow! We will come back to you? We will worship? I’m certainly not an expert on worship but that has to be one of the most sacrificial and confident examples of worship found in the Bible. It’s quiet obvious that Abraham knew God’s voice. And without questioning why. That’s a relationship with depth that only comes from spending lots of time in someone’s presence.

Then of course there’s King David, another worshiper who wrote music unto the Lord. The book of Psalm is full of examples of him bringing worship to the Lord regardless if he was exuberant or in total despair. I want to worship like that. So, recently I decided to enhance my worship by writing out scripture every day for a month. I’m not sure what I thought writing it would do, but so often when I read scripture I’m on verse 13 before I realize it, and I have no idea what the 12 verses before even said. So, I chose Proverbs, mainly because I was in process of praying for wisdom. When I started writing, God’s voice didn’t fill the room. I didn’t light up like a light bulb. Angels didn’t appear in the air above me. But I did connect in a tangible way with God’s word. I read verses I’d only glanced over in previous attempts at reading through the Bible. Our worship is a journey that takes different paths depending on where we are each day. So, I encourage you to find time to get alone with God’s word and you just may find something amazing take place. The scripture will become alive to you. And I promise that will change your worship.