WHY WORSHIP?

A lot of us would like to continue to move forward in our understanding of and participation in worship. And a lot of us includes me. I’ve been regularly going to church for almost 60 years, graduated from Bible college and two seminaries, and preached for over 45 years; but I still have a lot room for growth when it comes to worship.

A recent study of Psalm 119, and some reading about the Psalms in general, has sparked my interest in revisiting this matter of worship. The Old Testament book of Psalms is filled with calls to and examples of worship.

At its simplest, worship means to attribute worth to something or someone. Some other words we use to describe the word include glorify, adore, praise, bless, and revere. A dictionary definition of worship as a verb is “to show reverence and adoration for a deity.” As a noun worship is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Yes, people can worship whatever they choose to worship, but for Christians there is only one deity—God in the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We may not completely understand the triune God, but we believe it because the Bible teaches it.

Let me make some observations (you may or may not agree with) and quote some others that I hope will provoke your thinking about worship.

You can go to church and not worship – I’ve done it, and I would guess you have too.

Worship is about me, but it’s more about God.

Worship isn’t an event we go to.

Worship is not something done for us.

We worship both alone on our own as well as together with others in corporate worship.

We often speak of praising and thanking God in or as a part of our worship. We praise God for who he is and thank Him for what he does. Thanksgiving goes together with praise.

“Delight in God, arising out of the health of our relationship with God and enhancing the health of that relationship, is expressed in praise to God” (Pastor Mark Abbott).

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment” (C.S. Lewis).

Unfortunately, some think of worship as a solemn and joyless activity. There may be occasions when that is true, but generally worship is far from joyless.

“The whole notion of God asking us to sit around saying nice things about him can seem rather alien” (Philip Yancey).

“God doesn’t need our worship, but he wants it” (C.S. Lewis).

“In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him” (C.S. Lewis).

There is a lot to this thing of worship, isn’t there? My goal, as well as my encouragement to you, is to keep growing in understanding worship and exceling in the practice of worship.

Here’s a final observation about the subject: God’s invitation for us to worship him is one we should accept – regularly (alone and with others), thoughtfully, and enthusiastically.

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Image by Aaron Cabrera from Pixabay

 

 

 

WHO ARE YOU MOST LIKE?

Generally speaking most blog posts are serious, but in this one I want to lighten things up and have some fun. I don’t know why, but for some reason earlier this week I started thinking about the seven dwarfs – strange, right?

The seven dwarfs were characters in the Walt Disney animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs originally released in January 1959. Prior to the Disney film the story was a classic fairy tale about a princess who is cursed to sleep for a hundred years by an evil fairy, where she would be awakened by a handsome prince.

Even though I have never seen the movie (or read the story), I am somewhat familiar with the dwarfs. In terms of the movie, I’m pretty sure they are good guys. But most of all I am intrigued by their names: Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc, Happy, Grumpy, and Sleepy. While their names are suggestive of their personalities, in my research I have found some additional descriptions (and shortened them):

Bashful is shy. He’s not afraid to blush and bat his eyelids. Bashful is sentimental and pensive.

Doc is bossy. He’s a born leader – if something needs doing, Doc’s the one coming up with a plan. That’s because he has a fast mind. Doc is the excited one whose words come out quicker than he forms sentences.

Dopey is bare-faced and bald. He is the youngest of the gang and sometimes behaves rather childlike. Dopey doesn’t speak, and he never really tries to.

Grumpy is a know-it-all. He says no to everything. And he’s just plain miserable! His stubbornness and resistance, though, is what helps the dwarfs come to the princess’s rescue.

Happy – don’t we all love Happy? He’s so jovial about everything. Happy stays happy. In fact, the only time he loses composure is when the princess takes a bite of the Witch’s apple and quickly falls into a sleeping death.

Sleepy is well named, really. He’s just as hardworking as the rest of the clan in the mine, but he never falters to keep that relaxed, laid-back working style. Even though Sleepy is forever yawning and exhausted, he always seems to have his wits about him.

Sneezy – you cannot miss Sneezy. You also cannot have any doubt about where his name comes from. He just can’t control those sneezes and they seem to have terrible timing, too! Of course, the other 6 dwarfs help their buddy out whenever they can.

Based on the descriptions, it’s obvious the seven dwarfs are different, just like us. We have different strengths and weaknesses. No two of us are exactly the same; that’s how God made us. And aren’t you glad? If we were all the same, how boring families and friendships would be! Different as we are, however, we are all valuable and have something to offer to others and this world.

Here’s what I thought might be fun: pick the one you are most like, the one you are least like, and your favorite. And if you’re so inclined, share your choices with your spouse or a friend.

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Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/blickpixel-52945/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=656147″>Michael Schwarzenberger</a> from <a

 

CONTENTMENT – DO YOU HAVE IT?

What is contentment? I’m not sure. I recently read a sermon by Jeremy McKeen on contentment and have been reflecting on its meaning the past few days. Is being content a good thing? My answer is yes, but it really depends upon our understanding of what contentment is.

One popular suggested definition of contentment is being satisfied. Is being content the same as being satisfied? It seems that would be true in terms of eating, but what about situations other than eating? Can someone be content and yet not satisfied at the same time?

In his sermon Pastor McKeen tells about a younger gentleman who came to him with a dilemma and told him, “I want to find another job and strive to serve Christ more and seek to improve my situation, but I also want to be content in life. And so I’m torn between self-improvement and self-contentment.” I don’t know the details, but I think I would have told the young man he could do both.

Here’s a personal illustration that I hope will make sense. I played golf today and didn’t play as well as I would have liked; but that doesn’t mean I am discontented. I enjoyed being on the course playing golf and competing with friends. I already look forward to the next time we play and I know I will enjoy it because my contentment does not depend upon my score. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve and win next time!

An indication that we may be discontented is if we preface our desire for something with the words if only. Putting a condition on someone or something to satisfy us may shine some light on our deficit of contentment.

One thing that greatly contributes to our discontentment is comparison. We see that someone has more than we do or has it better than we do and we dwell on what we don’t have. It’s not easy to be satisfied if we are focusing on what someone else has that we don’t have.

Something I think that greatly contributes to contentment is the cultivation and expression of gratitude. Instead of looking at what others have and focusing on what we don’t have, it may make a difference if we focus on what we do have and be thankful for that.

A final thought in this consideration comes from the Apostle Paul and his testimony in one of his letters. In Philippians 4:11b-13 he writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Apparently contentment is something that can be learned; maybe we should make the effort to do so.

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