These are my observations and may represent what you, the reader has seen or noticed. This is a general view with references to certain worship experiences. No offense is intended.
The Jews who revere the Most High don’t even say or print His Name, so I thought I would align with that which is why you will notice a printed substitute. Finally, I’m not a professional writer so don’t miss my points due to my terrible writing!
A View on Worshipping G-d
Worship. Sunday morning worship. Worshipping the Lord. We are probably visualizing someone with a really great voice in front of the assembly or congregation leading us, with our hands lifted, in the Presence of G-d. A Worship Band is playing. Maybe you envision a clean shaven, guitar-strumming guy in t-shirt and jeans singing softly into a microphone and the audience is hushed and weeping.
That’s NOT what this article is about. These paragraphs that follow may comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Especially those who are well rehearsed in “the things of G-d”, knowing how to “church”.
I think worship (showing the worth of, state of worthiness) is going to be kin to the description of fasting in Isaiah 58.
“Is this such a fast I have chosen...”
It goes on to talk about a person who afflicts him or herself by not eating and doing everything we have been taught that will equal a good christian. “Bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
Miserable. Absolutely miserable! Then, if you continue reading that passage, there follows a description of true self-fulfillment or rather selfless love given to those in need of food, shelter, clothing and love! The scripture says our health would spring forth speedily and more! What G-d thinks is sooo different than what we think! Is what we call “worship” worship?
Definitions may be numbered in the dictionary to show the most frequent or popular uses of a word. Subsequent uses may list in the order of their appearance on the scene. Worship has been defined as a noun: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity: the worship of G-d. As a verb it is: show reverence and adoration for (a deity); another is : treat (someone or something) with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity: “she adores her sons and they worship her.” Dictionary Version 2.1.3 (80.4)
Worship either goes up or it comes down. Sending it up lifts us up; pulling it down does the same to us. I’m suggesting when we worship Him, we either rise to meet G_d or pull Him down to our level. Worship, then, is not to lift us, but to lift G-d above all!
I’m not against people feeling emotion as they worship. One cannot worship G-d and not feel emotion though one may be quite emotional and not worship G-d at all. Sometimes it is merely self-serving the way some approach worship; G-d has nothing to do with it, His worth, for them, is not the point of their gathering or the reason for their songs. It’s like selfish s_x, isn’t it? Getting close to G-d just to leave when one is satisfied! Sang your songs. Clapped your hands. Cried a little bit or cried a lot. Straighten out our hair and clothes. Regain our composure. Let’s go and terrorize the local restaurant now. Was it good for you? Cigarette anyone? Said more directly, forced intimacy has a name. You do the math.
How we approach worship is important. The brothers Cain and Abel both worshipped God, but God had respect for only Abel’s offering. We see the first intentional worshippers of Jesus in the Gospels’ account of the Magi who followed his star. But I’d like you to consider the heart of worship that is seen in the woman with the alabaster box in Luke 7: 36-50. So much has been said about her! We don’t know her name. Let’s call her “New Courage”. Look at how she is so focused on Christ! Wow!
She is not taking “no” for an answer! New Courage knows she is socially opposed and not welcome. Let’s look at what she has to overcome:
- She is a woman and (in a male-dominated society) and thus was
- Voiceless. She had no leverage.
- She is showing up at a man’s home after dark.
- It is night when “good” women” do not travel through the city after sundown
- She was uninvited as she was not on the guest list and had no right to be there (though I’ve read somewhere the poor would come hoping to be thrown scraps of food).
- Her reputation preceded her (she was a known prostitute) so with
- Every step she took toward the Pharisee’s home, she dragged the weight of her past with her.
In her defense, let me say, I don’t know of anyone who just wakes up one day and out of the blue decides to be a whore. Life can get a few fastballs past you and strike you out. Hard times can make you rethink your position on things. Lower your standards and values if you can’t raise your mind! Not that I’m justifying prostitution, but she may have found it was the only way to survive at the time. Have you in your life ever devalued yourself?
She went on to sell her body and found she actually sold her soul. Men, taking her virtue from her at her price until she realized her profession had a cost. Lust, unlike love, takes from everyone it touches. So her customers, trying to heighten their own pleasures, in turn dumped the sticky, horrid darkness of their own hearts over her until she was covered with their shame and her own.
When we meet her in this scripture, Courage has decided to LIVE. Before she left her home, she prepared a gift for the King of Kings, expensive ointment in a box of alabaster, allegedly valued at one year’s wages. She could make a lot of money in a year! She wrapped it in a cloth and tucked it in her arm.
Through streets of her city and the tracks of her tears, she found Him and worshipped Him. Her brokenness may have caused many tears, enough to tenderly wash Jesus’ feet while the self-righteous and gawkers watched them, murmuring. Then she broke the box and the fragrance filled the room where they were sitting. Ash she went about her worship of the Nazarene, she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. She had used her hair to catch men and to seduce them. Now she humbly serves the man who gives sight to the blind who will believe and makes those who are lame and will believe, to walk. This same Jesus who stopped a funeral procession and raised a little girl from the dead.
Jesus didn’t look for her; she went and found Him. When she arrived, she didn’t meet Him face to face. She wept and he turned around to see her. Saying nothing, she honored Him and began to wash His feet with her tears, wiping them off with her hair while her broken heart spoke volumes and...He loved her. He didn’t judge her or condemn her royally for having the nerve to touch Him; He completely understood who she was in that moment and used her rough, basic, inelegant, non-eloquent worship to instruct and correct the presumptuous Pharisee and all his guests.
One point I lift from this passage is you can’t truly seek G-d and worship G-d without the fragrance of your tribute following you and filling every room and place you go! People will know! Are people saying about you and I, “What is that lovely fragrance about you? That is you isn’t it?” You don’t have to try to be noticed. The aroma of your personal love toward G-d and honoring Him has a way of changing the atmosphere without your trying to be holy. Be you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t check bad behavior and poor decisions in the least! But aren’t you sick of dragging your past and acting like someone you’re not? People know our past. So what! We are the ones who determine our future. Are you like New Courage and ready to search for Christ and worship Him wherever you find Him?
“Am I smarter than a horse?” you may ask yourself. Well, of course, we are! But the advantage here may go to the horse. He doesn’t over-think things like we are prone to do. He was made to run, so he does; he was built with strength and beauty and runs for the joy, the thrill of being alive, to feel the strength surging through him. In short, he operates simply in his purpose.
Worshipping may be found in the giving of oneself to their purpose which glorifies G-d. I like to say: “Love G-d enough to be your best.” The horse made the Bible, meaning He is mentioned by name, and on top of that, he was mentioned by G-d himself!
In the book of Job, we hear G-d correcting Job’s paradigm and perspective about himself and his self-righteousness.
G-d asks Job:
Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils [is] terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in [his] strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that [it is] the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting
The Horse, was described in intimate detail and G-d is magnified. We see Him in a larger way because of an animal who cannot speak, preach, prophesy, edify, exhort, encourage, or anything we seem to be impressed with in others. Hay goes in one end, you know what comes out the other, yet G-d brags about him. No formal training, no degrees or even a Certificate of Completion. He made G-d’s bragging list and the horse can’t even talk!
It obviously isn’t what the horse can say (we people are pretty big on talk). It’s about who he is, how G-d made him and what he does. Think about this for a moment: When was the last time you were thrilled to be alive? When you feel alive, when you flow in your being, G-d is glorified. You give Him the best gifts ever. Why? Because men will see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.
So to put things in proper perspective for Job, this guy is questioned about how everything was made, how it all actually happened, as if he knew, as if he really was there. Job could not truly acknowledge G-d until he got his mind right! Until he gained understanding and could honor G-d as G-d.
Job then repents for his self-righteousness and G_d blesses him with more than he had before his trials and subsequent correction.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
We need to know to a greater, more intimate extent who we are in the context of being fearfully and wonderfully made. I believe we are afraid to be beautiful, powerful, intelligent lest we should become “lifted up in pride” (as in the sin of pride). But think about this: If we never display ourselves flowing in the persona and giftings G-d created us to show His glory, how then is He glorified? There are people today who want nothing to do with G-d because they look at you and I and see...what? Hopelessness? Do they see people struggling or consumed with fear? What do they hear? “Blessings and cursing, negativity?
Saying “I worship You”, is not worshipping G-d any more than saying to your hungry child or spouse: “I feed you! There! You should be okay now.” Try that and see what response you get. Let me know how that works for you! It’s not what you say; it is what you do.
Matt. 15:8 states,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their MOUTH, but their HEART is far from me.”
With G-d’s heart as the focus of our own, the aim for our lives should become significantly clearer. It should simplify our lives so we may truly worship.
And above all, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT’S NOT FOR YOU. You are the verb that impacts the subject. You are the battery that powers the lamp. The light shines because of you worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. Worship is like receiving a kiss: You know instantly if the one kissing you really doesn’t want to. G-d knows the difference between lip service and the aroma and fragrance of worship.
You and I are made to be heroes and worshippers like David in the bible for example. His lifestyle of adoration of G-d caused him to apparently become fearless in the face of wild predators and almost certain death. While we admire David in the accounts of his exploits, we should strive to reach the daily life of loving G-d and shedding our natural fears to live our lives as declarations of G-d’s glory.
A Personal Encounter
If you still need a praise team and a musician to worship G-d, I am convinced you need even more to have a personal encounter with Him. Saul of Tarsus had an encounter with G-d. Moses did too. It won’t be emotionalization (spellcheck says that’s not a word), though your emotions certainly may rise when you encounter Him.
- Abraham went to worship on a mountaintop away from work and family and met his maker who provided a ram in the bush after being severely tested on his faithfulness.
- The aforementioned David tended sheep alone, but sang songs to the Lord during his duties. This activity drew him closer to G-d and he was used powerfully in our Father’s service!
- Moses also went up on a mountain, Mt. Sinai, and met with G-d who spoke with him from a burning bush! He continued in G-d’s presence until he literally shone from G-d’s glory. He received the Commandments of G-d for the children of Israel.
- Hanna went to the Temple, distraught, to pray and priest thought she was drunk! She met G-d and prayed and her prayer was answered. She entreated the Lord.
- Saul of Tarsus was arrested by a blinding light and voice from Heaven that completely changed the course of his life. He went on to pen 2/3 of the New Testament and preached throughout Rome and Asia, defying death threats and death itself.
- The apostles and company waited for the promise of the Comforter (The Holy Spirit) on the day of Pentecost. Afterwards, Peter preached and 2,000 souls were added to the church in that oneday!
- I took a week off (my wife was fully aware I had been and spent that time without television, phone, bathing (until I couldn’t stand myself anymore!) I made myself available to meet with and hear, from G-d. I felt extremely peaceful and received visions and confidence G-d loves me and is with me. People not accustomed to seeing this kind of confidence thought I was “arrogant”. To one woman’s credit, she came to me one evening after Bible Study to apologize to me and seek forgiveness for feeling disgust with me. I had no idea what she was talking about! She said, “I used to think that you were just arrogant and I couldn’t stand you! But I’ve been watching you and I realize that You know God loves you and you don’t care what anyone thinks about that.” I thought that was courageous for her to admit that although I wondered how could anyone think I was anything other than adorable!
People who hear me play piano smile and say one thing consistently: “You obviously enjoy playing, don’t you? I can tell.” They tell me how much they also enjoy it and how they feel better. Pfizer and Merck, eat your heart out! I’m not the best, neither do I have to be. I have to be my best that’s all. I’m doing what I was sent to do.
Still Small Voice
Have you ever been in a highly charged service and everybody is really into it but this time, not you? You notice a quietness about you, though normally you would be getting your shout on, getting your praise on? Sometimes, its a still, small voice directing you within while others around you are fully exuberant. I found in those times G-d wants my attention on HIm or what He wants me to see. This is usually something about me that’s less than godly or something He wants me to know.
In the high praises or worship, loving G-d acts like an anesthetic for a spiritual operation to remove the ungodly thing or attribute from me. Just like that. No struggle, no pain, just let it go.
Who Is It For?
True worship of G-d is not for the televangelist only, Your favorite Christian recording artist, the prophetess visiting your area, the field missionary or even your local storefront preacher, and let me be clear: I love all of them.
If it were, that would be like only the store managers of the world should do the work, with the owners and the other employees stand around and occasionally chip in and support somehow. The Kingdom is not in your local assembly or Christ would have said so; the Kingdom of G-d is in you!
It is for you and I to know ourselves and trust our G-d who made us to make the difference in this world, and to our generation before we pass off the scene. I have a couple of worship heroes, one is the little drummer boy (the one from the Christmas song) and the aforementioned woman with the alabaster box. It took bravery for her to seek Christ and execute her worship in the face of upstanding members of the community and outstanding religious people. Where they failed to give common courtesy and acknowledgement, she excelled them all.
Thus, worship isn’t some event only for Sunday morning worship or tent crusade in your town or conference you pay to fly to and attend. It’s not the incredible volume you can generate with or without a microphone. I used to get so tired of that and I was one who used volume in that manner.
It’s the love you share in your every day life on an every day basis even thought you have setbacks and feel real discouragement. Own that stuff and admit it. People will seek G-d more because you’re real and not wearing a plastic smile Christians sometimes are known to wear. Saccharine smiles and empty enthusiasm (hollowlujahs) do more to hurt the growth of the Kingdom than we can ever imagine. Show love.
What Should I Do?
- Start with a smile, a real one from your heart. You have something to be grateful about. Remember why yesterday was a good day. This will give you hope for find beauty in today.
- Practice gratitude: Honestly, things could be worse. You could be viewing today from a hospital bed. Or not at all. Selah.
- Spend time learning you in quiet reflection and meditation, find out for example, who you are and why you’re still so angry after all this time (that was me for real). Undo this knot and begin to experience flow. You will begin to live your life more abundantly.
- Guard your heart that the knot doesn’t begin to take form again and block something else in you. It doesn’t matter the great things you do if you’re angry when you do them. Doesn’t show G-d’s love or character does it? (Please don’t say: “That’s just the way I am.” Ugh! Lame and sooo tired!)
- When you discover (rediscover) your beautiful self, find a way to be you so that it helps others. “Let your light (emphasis mine) so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mt. 5:16
- Improve yourself constantly. As stewards of life and G-d’s grace, be better today than you were yesterday. Improve yourself or make excuses but you can’t do both! An improved you is a more thankful you. Which leads me to my final point:
- Don’t force it. This is a major change for some. Thank G-d for the little things. Take incremental steps here so your progress is natural, you know? Discipline yourself to live a little higher in your thoughts and morals. Accepting your beauty and strength can take awhile when one has been reinforced with the idea one has been nothing but undesirable and weak. A mother will visit her child in jail and she still loves him. When G-d looks at you, His child, what do you imagine he truly thinks of you? He loves you! Get to know Him better.
In closing, I pray you feel free from worship from a traditional point of view limited to Church services and Church folk to a universally empowered way to live that everyone will benefit from your fragrance.
I hope you found this challenging, helpful or at least thought provoking. G-d bless us all.
Mark is a pianist and Travel Consultant with his wife Arlette specializing in Luxury Weddings and Destination Honeymoons and Cruises. He lives in Tucson, AZ with his wife where they perform music together. They have three children.