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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?

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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

What Your Worry Is Really Saying About You

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Experience

Every single person on the planet worries. You do. I do. We all do.

Shoot, even now I’m worrying a little bit about the boy who will take my daughter out on her first date (when she’s 25 of course).

What Your Worry Is Really Saying About You

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Sometimes worry can be a good thing.

It can heighten our senses, create due diligence, or even hyper-vigilance.

But most of the time, the only thing worry says about you, is the one thing you don’t want to admit.

You’re a control freak.

Where you experience worry is where you’re attempting to control the uncontrollable. (Tweet that)

I know this to be true.

As you very well may know, I’ve made a great living as an Experience Architect working for literally hundreds of the best artists, entertainers, and communicators out there. I could easily drop a few names, making you think I’m much cooler than I really am, but that’s not the point.

Working under the umbrella of someone else’s name is easy. I can do that blindfolded and with my hands tied behind my back. That’s a no brainer.

But creating awesome experiences, where it’s my name and my reputation at stake, now that seems like a whole another thing altogether.

This week my wife and I’s company Tinsel & Twine, hosts another Christmas Barn Sale. We do a few of these events a year, and they’ve grown tremendously over the years. This year we have over 100 vendors, food trucks, live music, and all sorts of other fun stuff including pictures with Santa.

Because my wife and I believe so strongly in community and we’ve been given far more than we deserve, we use these events to raise money for various projects and non-profits in our community. This year’s event has partnered with a great organization called Franktown Open Hearts.

This summer my wife and I were praying about what God was calling us to with this year’s event and we both came together with the same exact vision to raise $10,000 for Franktown. I wrote about this earlier a couple months ago. It’s the BIGGEST and SCARIEST thing I’ve ever attempted to do.

So as this week has approached I’ve noticed worry start to creep up, deep inside me. It’s been like a slow moving storm cloud, sparking all sorts of anxiety, fear and doubt.

  1. Anxiety that people won’t show up.
  2. Fear that we won’t reach our goal and come off looking like failures.
  3. Doubt that says, we don’t know what we’re doing and will be left alone out in the cold (literally, it’s going to be cold outside).

But then I came across this passage of scripture that jumped right off the page at me.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8 NLT

It was as if God was asking me, now who is wiser, you or me? Who’s sovereign, you or me?

Well, duh, the answer to that question is pretty easy and no one wants to be described as unstable!

But here’s the key.

To experience the gospel and find rest in the gospel means that you live out of the understanding of God’s eternal sovereignty. From the securely attached place of knowing His character (faith), and experiencing his goodness (grace and mercy), you’ll be free to live without worry.

While I know this all to be true, even re-reading that last couple sentences makes me think, yeah sounds pretty easy.

Truth is some days it’s not. Like the last few days for me.

So here’s what I’ve been practicing to re-center myself without worry.

  1. Speak some truths of the character of God. (He is for me, He is with me, He loves me, He is passionately pursuing me, He’s always faithful, etc.)
  2. Reflect on times when those truths have felt more tangible than they do today.
  3. Acknowledge that my feelings may change on a whim, but God’s character never changes. So if those things were true yesterday, then they are still true today.
  4. Invite the Father into my worry.

Now I may not succeed in meeting the goals I have made for this event. I may not sell enough tickets, I may not have enough help to get everything done that I’d like to. It’s probably going to rain, and it’s definitely going to be cold, but none of those facts take away from the truths I’ve identified and agreed with along the way.

And that’s what really matters for you and I.

Question for you: Where does worry attack you the most? Do you recognize the connection between worry and control in your life?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: December 2, 2013

Giving Thanks Starts With A Choice

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Community

One of the biggest reasons why I’m such a strong advocate for gospel-centered biblical community is because of the reminders they provide that we are not alone. Many times in the midst of the dark night of the soul, its relationship and community that give us hope, helping us find the perspective to be grateful even in the storm.

Giving Thanks Starts With A Choice

Photo Credit: Mlwells13 via Compfight cc

Tomorrow, most of us will sit down with our friends, neighbors, family members, and even possibly a stranger or two and we’ll gather around a table for a meal. For some it will be a joyous occasion filled with laughter and light-hearted celebration. For others, it’ll be much harder.

But no matter where you fall in that continuum, giving thanks will always start with a choice.

I use a gratitude list to help me make that choice, especially when I find that it’s not as easy as I’d like it to be.

Here’s a list of some things I’m grateful for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the stewardship I’ve been entrusted with to be a father to 3 amazing little joy factories.
  2. I’m grateful for grace. Without it, I would not be alive.
  3. I’m grateful for laughter but also grateful for stillness and solitude.
  4. I’m grateful for 10 years of marriage and the man I’m becoming because of it.
  5. I’m grateful for redemption and that all things are BEING made new.
  6. I’m grateful for the gospel that tells me I’m could never be loved any more nor any less.
  7. I’m grateful for things like my daughter Molly’s smile when she comes home proud of a good grade.
  8. I’m grateful for my son Riley’s kind, tender heart, which constantly shows me The Father’s heart.
  9. I’m grateful for Jonas’ curly hair and hilarious laugh. What joy he brings to our family!
  10. I’m grateful for being able to sit and read by a fire.
  11. I’m grateful to be home with my family. There have been years where I’ve been on the road far more than I’ve been home.
  12. I’m grateful for God’s generous and abundant provision.
  13. I’m grateful for friends and community that constantly remind me of the gospel.
  14. I’m grateful for this season of thanksgiving that naturally turns my heart towards the things that matter most, like friends and family.
  15. I’m grateful that things like fame, power, prestige, and notoriety aren’t the currency of The Kingdom of God.

It’s amazing to see what happens in our hearts when we allow them to give thanks. The power of gratitude is an awesome thing.

Want to know how to dig yourself out of a dark hole, where nothing seems to going right, and there is little hope in sight?

Write a gratitude list.

Want to change how others experience you in relationship?

Begin to write gratitude lists.

Want to impact the outlook you have on life and others?

Sit down and write a gratitude list. 

It’s easier than you think and will carry more weight than you realize.

Question for you: What things are you grateful for today? How will you give thanks this holiday?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: November 27, 2013

5 Things I Learned from an Arena Full of Women

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Experience

This fall I was given the greatest privilege in the world — working with the Women of Faith conference. Each and every weekend I would travel to a different city and spend a few days with an arena full of women. I was probably only one of a couple dozen or so men present. But in-spite of the abundance of estrogen, let me tell you, those weekends were awesome!

And because I’ve worked with live entertainment and produced live events for over 15 years, I can say with pride, it truly was an honor to work alongside such tremendous speakers and entertainers. Some of them I now consider to be friends and allies.

5 Things I Learned From An Arena Full of Women

Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman

As an Experience Architect, one of the most important things I value is sacred space. In my opinion, there is nothing more crucial to impacting lives from any experience, whether that’s conversation in a coffee-house, or an event with an arena full of women, than curating trust, through sacred spaces.

I’ve learned throughout these years, that sacred space and trust can be built various ways, but most importantly, they will always be lead with vulnerability. And in the arena of vulnerability, boy do we men, have a lot to learn.

As a matter fact, vulnerability isn’t the only thing I learned about from these women.

Here are 5 more things I learned from arenas full of women.

1. When it comes to worship, you women have us men beat hands down. I dare say there is any sweeter sound than the sounds of women worshipping with all their hearts. As a worship leader myself, I know this to be true. This fall convinced me once again that the path to restoration and healing, presupposes our adoration of Christ. Our worship will always take us immediately to His lap, where we can be met as we are in His perfect love.

2. Women are stronger than any man realizes. There’s a couple reasons why I say this but mainly this: men, have you ever heard a woman cry tears of brokenness? True authentic, gut-wrenching tears of brokenness? That sound comes from a place of strength few men ever brave the conditions to reach. And boy is that a beautiful sound. It’s where The Father’s love and mercy swoops in, picks us up, and speaks to our hearts, saying, “Now let me carry you for a while.”

3. The issues women deal with make my stuff look small in comparison. Women of course, read that and nod their head, they know it’s true. Men, however, probably read that and start to give a yeah but. Yeah but this or yeah but that. So let me just put this to bed for us all. Aside from all the deep arrows of the heart, the ones that oppress and kill the beauty of true womanhood, there is one thing women have long suffered through that men will never fully comprehend, childbirth. Enough said, right?

4. Though this could technically just be continued from #2 above, men, we frankly have it easy. All we have to do is turn our heads and cough every once and a while. I’m not trying to be graphic here, or cross any imaginary boundary but seriously, as a man I can speak firsthand to the fact that we do not spend enough time thinking about or fully understanding all the various tests, procedures, and otherwise not so fun things that women go through on a routine basis. Trust me here men, throughout this fall, I have heard more than my fair share of stories of exams, certain unwanted relatives coming into town, and a whole host of other stories leading to lots and lots of laughter. All things that have made me say, I’m the lucky one.

5. Last but certainly not least, women you are capable of more than any man comprehends. It’s unfortunate that the debate of gender roles in and out of the church spark such vitriol and heated reaction. I tend to see it more as overreaction and largely due to fear, especially when led by men, but the beautiful lesson I was reminded of this fall is that the gospel is just as present in the lives, stories, and words of a woman than they ever will be in a man. Women have been just as uniquely created in the image of The Father as men have. They are our co-image bearers and the idea that they would be viewed any less is flat-out disgusting to me.

I was honored to work with Women of Faith this year and hope to do so again in the future. The voices and leaders that are a part of that movement are some of the absolute very best and are no doubt leading some awesome experiences in the lives of many women around the country!

If you attended any Women of Faith weekend this year, I’d love to hear your stories of what you experienced over the weekend. You can send them to stories [at] thejoshcollins [dot] com.

Question for you: Women, would you add anything to this list above? Is there something you think I’ve left out? Something that needs to be added? What about you, men?

Posted on: November 25, 2013

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