"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."- John 4:23
I am an active part of our church's worship ministry and have been serving in such a role (or similar role in other churches) for 35 years. But it wasn't until just in the past eight to nine years or so that I've really come to understand what true worship really is. Up until then, if someone asked me what worship was, I would respond with going to church for a couple of hours, singing and/or playing a few hymns, listening to a sermon and going home. Or I might have said that it was the first twenty minutes of the same said service, where we would sing/play in order to "warm up" the congregation for the pastor's sermon.
Sadly, a lot of people don't get it when it comes to what it really means to be a Christ-follower and they don't understand what worship is really all about. I was one of those folks. And what's worse, I was in many leadership roles for a lot of years before I came to an understanding of what it means to follow Christ and to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. I made a great member of my denomination, but I really didn't follow Christ and I most certainly didn't know the real meaning of worship.
I think if I had written a book about the worshipper's lifestyle several years ago, it probably would have looked like a poor facsimile of one of Steven Covey's popular "7 Habits" books... And it would have probably been aptly dubbed by those who knew me best as "The Habits of This Highly Effective (But Lost) Church Lay Leader." It would have included chapters like: 1) Dressing for Success: Putting on the Sunday Game Face, 2) Communication: How to bounce a long prayer off a ceiling and/or turning prayer requests into pry-er requests, 3) Manipulation and The Inner Circle: How to Win Friends in High Places, 4) Absolute Abandonment: How to attend Church every time the door is open and still not "get it", 5) Daily Walk: The Do's and Don'ts of living the life, 6)Serving: Working up a sweat (to try to get into Heaven), 7)Treasures: Giving when I want something back, 8) Personal Holier-than-thou-ness: My stuff doesn't stink, but yours sure does, 9) Testing: just learning all the stuff for the "final", and last, but not least, 1o) Whose Church is it anyway? (It's all about me.)
The truth is I was taught how to live the Christian life, but like so many others, I really failed in actually understanding what it meant to truly know Jesus in a personal way. As I have shared in previous posts, I went through all of the motions of becoming a Christian, but there was no substantial evidence of Christ in my life outside the walls of the church or Christian circles.
And then the gig was up.
Life began to fall apart for me. My husband had died. I was left with very little monetarily. I left a poorly paying ministry-related job in our denomination's state convention office for another that seemed to pay better, only to realize that was a BIG mistake. Then I spent the next nine months searching for another job, all the while my credit was going into the toilet and my former employer was to blame. In addition, I was having all sorts of nightmares about my dead husband. Then I started having nightmares following watching a series of movies similar to the "Left Behind" series as well as the first of "Left Behind" movies. I could see myself in the role of the associate pastor in that first Left Behind movie - although I was one who was a church lay leader, I had all sorts of knowledge, but really had no relationship with God.
Then, like Humpty-Dumpty, I fell apart.
And nothing I did or said would put Humpty back together again. I knew all of the right stuff to say... all the right things to do. But somehow, life just wasn't playing out right for me.
And I couldn't figure out why.
Soon I started paying attention to some things, and decided to have a heart-to-heart discussion with a long-time friend, who knew me well. And it was in his office that I finally came to the point of genuine Surrender.
After thinking about a lot of this, I would like to share several thoughts with you along the lines of the same topics that I think would have been in my facetious book above and spend the next several weeks talking about what it means to be the kind of worshipper the Father seeks. However, I would also like to be certain that I am not just filling the heads of some folks who may be in the same position as I was in prior to having a real relationship with Jesus, and not introducing their hearts to a real, vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus. As I write these posts, while parts of them will be tongue-in-cheek, I want to be sure that they always come back to pointing folks to a Savior. So we will come back to the topic of true worship and what that actually means, according to the Bible.
I also want to make it clear that it's not my job to be The Holy Spirit. There is a Holy Spirit and I am not Him. Nor do I want to do His job for Him. However, I am expecting that God could use this series to open the eyes and ears (and hopefully, hearts) of those who may be in the same position that I was just a few years ago. Rest assured, however, that if you happen to read these posts (or any other of my posts) and find yourself in that same position, there is a Savior... And you can know Him. He already knows and loves you. I'd love to show you how you can know Him!
So, stay tuned. We'll go for several weeks, through most of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons. There may be some weeks when we break because God will lead us to do something a little bit different. But for the most part, this is where we will be headed for the next several weeks.