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Thursday, April 29, 2010

I bid you a warm welcome on this lovely April day.  Today I've got a devotion running on Proverbs31.org and Crosswalk.com about worship.  God has taken me on a journey to transform my worship.  If you've got a few minutes, I'd love to share my testimony about worship.   Let's go back in time 10 years, when we started attending our church, Vineyard North Phoenix. 

I stood in worship, arms raised, with tears and mascara streaming down my face, and dripping onto my shirt. This wasn’t a new response. When my husband and I started attending our church, worship brought me to tears. My husband stopped asking what was wrong. After weeks of handing me tissues, he knew I was fine, just emotional.


At first, it embarrassed me to be emotional in worship. After all, I wasn’t a new Christian, having accepted Jesus as my Lord over 35 years earlier. And I wasn’t new to contemporary worship. In fact, I had led the worship singing at a previous church. But this was different. I was new to this level of openness and intimacy with God, and it touched me in a very deep place.

The question begged to be asked, “If I was a Christian for decades, why hadn’t I known this level of intimacy through worship?” The answer is simple, yet took me a while to process and fully understand: I’d always focused on serving God, including serving Him in worship. I saw singing as a gift, and wanted to return that gift to God through some sort of music ministry.

However, I was so intent on serving in worship that I missed out on the most important part – actually worshipping. Amazingly, when I stopped “doing” worship, I learned what it meant to “be” a worshiper.

For years I had served God in worship; including singing in a youth choir, then a Christian band, being in the choir as an adult and finally leading. It seemed I’d faced a congregation all my Christian life. However, 12 years ago my family moved across country and I was an unknown in my church. At that time I fully expected to get right up on stage as soon as I could. But during my prayer time, I heard the Lord clearly speak to my heart and tell me not to sing in front of others. In fact, God continued, I wasn’t even to let people know I could sing.

This was a bittersweet time for me. It was hard to face the front every Sunday. I prayed weekly for God to change His mind: “Please Lord, make it obvious when I can sing again on the worship team. In fact, have the worship pastor put something in the bulletin so I know it’s You!” But it didn’t happen. So I settled into being a member of the congregation.

Over time, something happened in my heart. For the first time I wasn’t worried about hitting the right note, or how I sounded, or if I looked properly worshipful while I was singing – I was just worshiping! As the technical concerns of serving in music ministry slipped from my shoulders, God completed the work He intended when He asked me to stop singing publicly. He showed me He much preferred receiving my adoration in worship than hearing my well-blended harmonies.

I think this must have been what Jesus tried to tell the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus had been traveling, and stopped for rest and a cool drink in Samaria. There He met a woman drawing water for her daily needs. Jesus asked for a drink of water, and in typical Jesus fashion, the talk progressed from H2O to the life of living water He could offer her. This passage is textured with meaning, and one theme is worship.

The conversation continued, and after having her private life revealed by a stranger, the woman asked Jesus about the right place to worship: Was it on a mountain where her ancestors worshiped, or was it in Jerusalem? Jesus’ answer was rich and full. He told her, “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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 NIV).

The woman wanted to be right with God, and to make sure she was in the right physical place for worship. But Jesus wanted her in the right spiritual place. It didn’t matter where she worshiped God, but how she worshiped. I was like that woman. God wanted to get me in the right spiritual place for worship, and moved me 2000 miles away from home to do it.

As I look back over my experience, I see how easy it was to let familiar words breeze through my mouth, without my heart being fully engaged in worship. It’s amazing that I could plan lunch and sing praises at the same time. But when I truly worship in spirit and truth, my heart is laid bare before the Lord and distracting thoughts vanish. It’s as if a door opens to the deepest place in my spirit and God steps in and fills me up – my mind, my heart and my soul. In those moments of intimacy, God can work miracles.

Without meaning to, I’d held the Lord at arm’s length during worship for years. It was emotionally easier to concentrate on the details of the music, rather than open myself to God’s work in my spirit. Although it was uncomfortable at first to be that open in the presence of the Lord, I’ll never go back. After seven years of learning to worship, God did have the music pastor put a note in the bulletin, and I’m back on the worship team. But I’ll never sacrifice being a worshiper for serving in worship again.

Let the tears flow!

In His Love,
Glynnis

17 comments:

Sylvia Goode Basham said...

Glynnis, your P31 devotional made me smile :-) as I know I don't always fit the "standard" in the ways I worship (which includes the worship as I write, as I speak, as I do dishes and laundry.) Thank you for reminding me that it's ok as long as I meet God's standard!

Cheri Bunch said...

Glynnis, I was so blessed by both your devotion and blog today. The Lord looks on the heart, it is man who notices our outward expression when we worship. The Lord knows when our heart is bursting with adoration for Him it might look a little strange to those whose hearts have never been so moved. I believe with you that it is this expression of worship that so moves the Lord's heart and I am changed in the process. I am with you, sister, let the tears flow!
Blessings,
Cheri

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your devotional this morning. I was created to worship God. Plain and simple... we were created to worship him and glorify Him. It amazes me that people will go to ballgames and secular concerts and scream and shout and jump, but we come to church to honor our creator and we sit quietly...like we are stones, and yet Jesus said the rocks would cry out. I am a crier... I have a been a crier for years and used to be embarrased about it. I used to be emabarrased to raise my hands, especially if no one else was, but God has taught me that He desires our praise and our worship. I agree totally with you, and it's funny, because I told my husband the same thing last night after our church service, when I am old, I still want to be worshipping and praising...so I loved this, "I hope you'll find my gnarled hands raised, my gray head bobbing and my body swaying in worship". I want to be right there with you! God bless you.

Rebekah

Tammy Nischan said...

Glynnis,

I loved your devo and have to admit that I felt a little ashamed of myself because last night my son's high school choir combined with the college choir in our town and did a concert. They were singing about the rocks not being able to cry out because we would not stop praising God, and I wanted to raise my hands right there in that auditorium but felt that it would not be "dignified."

I guess I made Michal happy, didn't I????

Love you,
Tammy

Lynn Cowell said...

Glynnis,
I, too, was captured by that music. In fact, after high school, I attended Keith Green's School of Intensive Training in Lindale, TX. The title was rightly chosen!

Some days, when my kids go to school, I turn on my worship music VERY loud and sing, twirl, lay spread eagle on the ground...whatever it takes to physically feel Him filling me as I worship Him. It is wonderful!

Tracy Nunes said...

I too have been that woman. Serving God with all my own strength but not being near to Him in intimacy. Praise God that He isn't content to let us stay in that place! Thank you for your transparency and willingness to share your struggles and triumphs with us. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder that God seeks those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. The name on the church building doesn't matter. Whether I am driving my car singing at the top of my lungs or sitting quietly in bed reading the Psalms while my husband snoozes, God accepts the worship that comes from my heart.
I, too, become tearful when He moves me. And it used to embarass me, but my hubby said one day, "If you are moved, the side effects don't matter. You have Jesus in you." It was one of the nicest things that has ever been said to me.
God bless you and your ministry!
Jennifer

Karrie said...

I have been raised in a church that does not encourage open expression of worship. The more I grow in my love of Christ, the more I feel moved to open my hands and arms to the Lord in worship. When I am at home having a time of fellowhship with God, I often lift my hands, kneel, stand, shout praises,... He is so deserving of my praise. I need to not worry about what others are doing around me but remember to honor Him above all others and always.
I just returned from a weekend jr. high retreat with my daughter. The group Daniel's Window was there. They have a wonderful song from the verses you shared. Awesome song and some outrageous dancing everytime we sang it this past weekend. All for God's glory.
Thanks for your sharing.

THE WORD WOMAN said...

Glynnis, I am in tears. Thank you so much for sharing this today.

I too have been busily serving God when what He really wanted is for me to worship Him. I play in the praise team at our church, and I think far too much about how I look "up there" on stage to the worshippers, whether the tone and harmonies are good, etc., instead of just focusing my entire being on praising my Lord and Savior. The Lord has been gently pointing this out to me lately, but your post today was His very real wake-up call to me.

Thank you for obeying His call on your life! Please pray for me and others like me who struggle with pride - that we can just place ourselves wholly in His hands and bow down and worship Him fully!

Debbie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this devotion! This was wonderful and there is so much truth in it! I have learned this type of worship over the last 8 years and I love it. Not to say anything negative about the church I previously came from but, oh, the freedom of worship and the closeness I now feel with Him! Praise the Lord!

Tasha
tcantrell@choctawnation.com

Kelly Willie said...

Wonderful blog.......I know the feelings you have experienced in the past. I too get very emotional and sometimes cry. I am just now letting myself go and raising my hands when the spirit moves me, but am not as comfortable as I wish I was with it. I can remember several years ago seeing a young girl really worshiping the Lord with her hands raised high and you could tell the holy spirit was right there with her. I thought at that time.......that is the way I am going to be one day! So I pray each day that God will lead me closer and closer to him and I will worship in that way and not care what others think, as long as the holy spirit is moving in me, that's all that matters!

Kelly Willie said...

Wonderful blog.......I know the feelings you have experienced in the past. I too get very emotional and sometimes cry. I am just now letting myself go and raising my hands when the spirit moves me, but am not as comfortable as I wish I was with it. I can remember several years ago seeing a young girl really worshiping the Lord with her hands raised high and you could tell the holy spirit was right there with her. I thought at that time.......that is the way I am going to be one day! So I pray each day that God will lead me closer and closer to him and I will worship in that way and not care what others think, as long as the holy spirit is moving in me, that's all that matters!

dikki said...

Dear Glynnis, I can so relate to your Encouragement for Today, Undignified Worship. I came to the same conclusion several weeks ago while sitting in my very proper Baptist church that i have attended for at least 51 years. 41 of those years i sang in our church choir. I've all of a sudden developed voice problems so i retired last September after much thought and prayer. All i have ever wanted to do is sing and now i seem to sound more like a sick duck but, i keep trying. I always said i would rather not be able to talk than sing but, for some reason God has seen fit to take my singing voice. I retired from choir partly because i can no longer sing, partly because of physical problems and a lot because it just wasn't fun anymore. See we have an awesome choir and orchestra director/music pastor but, he concentrates so much on the technical stuff and sounding perfect that it took the fun out of singing for me. Maybe i'm just getting old but, i like to be able to think on the words (i am a writer also) and feel them. Of course in our very traditional B. Church that is still next to impossible but, i do my best to just enjoy the songs. The other thing i had a revelation on recently is praise music. There is nothing wrong with it!!!! I'm so excited, i just wish it hadn't taken me 57 years to learn that. We only sing traditional hymns and don't get me wrong, i love them but, there is something exciting about praise music that just gets you excited about Jesus! Like WOOHOO i'm glad to be a Christian and i'm not afraid to show it. Well anyway, you can check out my blog if you want the address is
http://dikki-dee.blogspot.com and well we are lucky to get a few amens at our church and heaven forbid that anyone might show some emotion. Well anyway, thank you so much for what you said. You are a blessing and positive reinforcement to my heart. Now i'm off to my ladies Community Choir "Classic Chorale" where i can go sing my heart out and they don't care if i'm not perfect and sound kind of squawky now and then.
Have a great day Glynnis!

Amanda E. Hayes said...

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!!!! Loved your devotional and loved your testimony!!! Also grew up and even in adulthood attended churches where "open" worship was not encouraged. I was opened up to the whole world of worship and contemporary music and praise and worship music with Aaron Shust's "My Savior, My God". That songs still gives me chills, and now there are MANY more songs that open the windows of Heaven and invite God to come and meet with us through "TRUE WORSHIP" (John 4:23). God has done SO much for me, how can I not give Him the praise he is due? So get up off that pew!! Amen, Amen, Amen, my sister!!! And thank you SO much for sharing!!!

Amanda Hayes
Pastor's Wife, Weekly Religious Columnist, and Christian Women's Speaker
Douglas, GA

KELLY WILLIE said...

Sorry about double post..computer problems yesterday!! Or, maybe I just loved this post twice as much! LOL

Steph said...

I hope you'll find my gnarled hands raised, my gray head bobbing and my body swaying in worship right with ya sister! :-)

You're AWESOME!

Lake Lady said...

Thank you, Glynnis.