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God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down. — C.S. Lewis

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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

What Is Worship?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Worship, Worship Wednesday

Note: I’m honored to have Joy Lenton guest posting for me today.  Joy is a wife, mother, grandma-in-waiting and M.E sufferer. A lot of her days are spent in PJs, penning poetry and prose. She loves connecting with people, reading, drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate. Before chronic illness scuppered her plans, Joy worked as a nurse. She still has a heart to support and encourage others by sharing her faith and life experiences. Joy blogs at Words of Joy and would love to connect with you on Facebook  or on Twitter

I wonder what springs to mind when you hear the word ‘worship‘? Maybe a time at church when you pause to sing, lift your hands and praise God, being at a Christian concert, a period of contemplation at a conference, listening to music, or just a quiet moment in prayer by yourself in the privacy of your own home.

 

What Is Worship?

Photo Credit: crowt59 via Compfight cc

It can be a hand-raising, eyes shut, silence and a shouting, face to the floor or looking heavenward, singing and stomping, fire and fury, peace and presence, seeking and finding kind of experience – and so much more besides.

Though worship isn’t really so much an activity as it is a heart attitude and a way of life.

I wrote this acronym to help me to remember the gist of worship:

Willing – to give our time and lives as a daily…

Offering – in obedience..

Reverence – and awe as we…

Surrender – in joyful submission of…

Heart – mind and will..

In – everything, giving…

Praise – and thanksgiving to His glory

We give ‘worth-ship’ to God because He is worthy, in and of Himself, to receive all honour, praise and glory. Our greatest question is not how, where or when we worship but who (or even what) we may be worshipping. It is all too easy to turn other people or things into idols, as well as our own ideas, dogma and ways of doing church.

I came to faith in a local Pentecostal church during a convention, so my early days as a believer were shaped by thoughts of worship being continual, noisy, muttering, singing, crying and no-holds-barred. Not easy for a naturally shy girl like me! Years passed. I became mainstream Baptist for a while, dipped my toes briefly into the waters of Anglicanism, then rooted myself in Free Church Evangelical.

Now, no denominational umbrella fully serves for the way I want to worship God. I lean further toward the reflective, Contemplative pathway, soaked in smatterings of Charismatic fervour and receptivity, with a vaguely Evangelical bias. God is too big for any mind-set, denomination, organisation or ‘this-is-the-way-we-do-things’ to be able to contain Him.

Church for me is both everywhere and nowhere specific as I am largely unable to get to services and rely greatly on books, TV and internet for input to my spiritual life. And the more my body is housebound and confined by M.E and other chronic health problems, the more my spirit longs to soar free. Let me loose on lingering in His Presence. Allow me space to hear His voice.

I wrote the poem below as an attempt to define aspects of worship. Though, how do you really define the indefinable? Express the inexpressible? Constrain that which is limitless? I’m not sure. But here is an expression, some of which (I hope) may resonate with you too:

Worship Is…

Bending of mind, will, heart and knee in supplication

to God in recognition of all we have and all we can be

Raising of voices, lifting of hands, heart and head to His call,

lowering of our own goals unless they’re in tune

with the will of the One who is sovereign over all

Making time to spend in His word, by His side,

learning to sit still, to listen, rest and abide

Seeking God’s face, not His hands, His Presence, not His presents,

His heart, will and voice, as we give thanks and rejoice

Wonder and awe at all He is, has done, created and made,

how much He loves, gives, restores and saves

Being aware of Who we approach in prayer, words and song

as we give due reverence to the Holy One

Going wherever He leads and calls with prompt obedience and speed,

relying on His supply, provision and help for our every need

Knowing He is Father, Comforter, Helper, and our greatest Friend,

spending these days on earth with Him unto eternity without end

Question: What does worship mean to you?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: December 11, 2013

Worship Wednesday: Finding Rest

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Worship Wednesday

For just about all of us, schools have started. And with summer coming to a close, the seasons are about to change.

Can you feel it?

I’ve already began to notice more and more leaves on the ground and I’m sure you have too. I’m convinced there’s very few things more beautiful than a Tennessee fall. It’s one of those things that make you crave warm blankets, homemade chili, football, and laughter with friends.

Maybe it’s just me, but before I let the business of a new school year, and the fast approaching fall take over, I’m finding more and more of a desire for rest.

Finding Rest

Photo Credit: aluedt via Compfight cc

Rest.

Even saying the words out loud bring about an exhaling sort of emptying – a good kind of emptying.

And without that emptying you can’t create any margin to be filled.

Studies now show us that without rest, our bodies start to slowly shut down, creating all sorts of compounding health problems.

Slowing down and finding rest, is part of why I haven’t posted in a week.

And you know what, the most amazing thing has happened; I’ve been reminded of some things that really matter.

Rest does that. It’s meant to. It was purposed to.

Rest, disconnects us from the unimportant and reconnects us to the stuff that really matters. (Encourage someone and tweet that)

I’ve made a small list of things that matter and don’t matter to me. You should make your own.

What doesn’t matter

  1. How many subscribers I have
  2. How many twitter followers I have
  3. How many page visits, clicks, or any other version of metrics

What does matter

  1. Being a better father
  2. Being a better husband
  3. Loving and serving well, those already around me

Finding rest is to find and declare freedom.

Tim Keller says this beautifully:

Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave—to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.

When you refuse to make time for rest, or when you fail to create space for any form of sabbath, effectively what you’re doing is replacing authentic worship for idol worship.

The story of your life is telling your audience, those whose attention you hold, like your family, what really matters to you.

You’re probably like me in that there is something you desire, something you dream of and pursuing those desires, chasing after those dreams can slowly take over everything else to the point where you forget why you’re doing any of those things at all.

That’s the beauty of slowing down, and finding rest.

Do you create space for rest?

Do you intentionally leave room for margin in your life?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: August 28, 2013

Worship Wednesday: Why Do You Pray?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Thoughts from an 8 yr. old, Worship Wednesday

Kids ask the best questions. Let me rephrase that, MY kids ask the best questions. I say my kids because frankly my kids are in fact better than your kids. By a long shot. I mean seriously, would you expect anything different from a man who’s made a living out of creating awesome things?

Ok, ok, I’m just joshin’ ya. Funny how I always hated hearing that as a kid, but I digress.

Seriously though, if you’re a parent, then you already know exactly what I’m talking about here.

Kids don’t have the filters that we adults have, and that’s part of what makes them such incredible blessings.

Why Do  You Pray

Photo Credit: thejuniorpartner via Compfight cc

Kids provide us with beautiful pictures of things that once were and hope for what could be again. (tweet that)

Just the other day I was talking with a neighbor friend, whose son and my son are best friends. They were telling me about having to attend a funeral and how their son reacted. We stood in the street talking, and were both shocked at the seemingly innocent understanding this young boy had about what he had just witnessed.

I was telling them about how I think there really is a sacred connectedness inside the innocent and how, more often than not, this played out in our kids. As you age, and enter different stages and seasons of life you lose touch with that connectedness and more importantly with that innocence.

When you’re young, anything is possible and everything is an adventure.

Your emotions are huge and your joys uncontainable.

It was meant to be this way.

I believe that’s part of what Christ was trying to teach the disciples when he rebuked them for not letting the children approach him.

I’ve written frequently over the years about various questions that my daughter has asked and as she gets older, the questions are getting harder and harder.

The other day we were reading a story in the storybook bible. (which you need to own 3 copies of, 1 for yourself, and 2 to give away) And she asks me, “Dad, if God knows everything, then why do we pray?”

Great question right? Have you ever asked it? Perhaps you’ve thought it and felt it, but never actually voiced the words.

My wife and I gave the best answer we could, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Your prayers and your worship are deeply connected. And in the very simplest of definitions, if prayer is nothing more than just communicating with The Father, then your worship can be just as simple.

The mistake that is often made from prayer and worship is in thinking that somehow you are putting pressure on God to respond, or react.

This can’t be further from the truth.

That’s not to say or diminish the power of prayer or even to suggest that our prayers aren’t answered.

But in trying to keep things simple, prayer and worship are necessary not because they change God but because they change you.

So asking the question should you pray isn’t asking the right question at all.

The better question is are you comfortable continuing to be the person you were yesterday? And the day before that. And the day before that. And so on.

Are you so content with your struggles and with your defects of character that you won’t even consider giving prayer a chance?

The simple, good news, for you and I today is this: “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13 

What do you think? Why do you pray?

Encourage someone in the comments below!

Posted on: August 21, 2013

Worship Wednesday: And You Think Being A Worship Leader Matters

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Worship Wednesday

From Josh: I’m honored to have Jennifer Kaufman guest posting today! Jennifer is a musician, photographer, Disney aficionado, wannabe runner, sometimes-writer and – most importantly – wife of an amazing husband and mom of three incredible kids five and under.  Her heart is for helping people be real – with themselves, and with one another. You can follow her blog here and be sure to follow her on Twitter as well!

A few years ago at a leadership conference, the worship pastor at the hosting church shared something that has stuck with me ever since.  I think of it often, as it’s changed my walk beyond the stage.

And You Think Being A Worship Leader Matters

In a breakout session for worship leaders (and by the way, each and every one of us on stage or behind the scenes is working to help lead others to engage in worship – so this means you, too!) he said that we are “Children of God first, ministers to others second, and worship leaders third.”

This spoke to me not only about my role as a church volunteer, but also about other areas of my life as well.

As worship leaders, we are part of a team that, each week, does something very visible.

We’re also wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, students, employees, friends… the list goes on and on.  We’re each working hard to balance various roles, accomplish things we set out to do, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in task lists and goals and even details that truly are important, but are not our identity.

The truth is, if we just sit back in God’s presence, doing nothing for a moment, we experience that we are never loved more or less. (tweetable

Regardless of what we accomplish, or fail to accomplish; regardless of our role at our church, our promotions at work, our good days and bad – we are cherished by the God of the universe who created us exactly as he intended, and who has an incredible plan for each of us.

John 1:12 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Of course we are called to do more than just sit around.

Of course it’s ok, even necessary, to strive for excellence – both musically each week and in every area of our lives.

But it’s not because our excellence is what defines us.

Even in spite of our failure and imperfections, God uses us to bring glory to himself.

He loves us with an unmatched love, simply because we are His children.

In order to lead others in worship, we need to remember that our identity is not in our talents or abilities, but in who we are in Him.

Ephesians 2:10“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We need to start with a lifestyle of worship – spending time with Him daily in our own lives.  And then we need to remember that he has called us to love and serve others next

After all of this, we can also play some instruments, sing a little, and make great music that helps others to enter into His presence.  But if any of that goes away – or if we have a day in which we fail to be the people we had hoped in any other area of our lives, His love for us and His calling on our lives doesn’t change.

What does it mean to you to start with a lifestyle of worship?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: August 14, 2013

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