Identity Crisis

Believe it or not, some of the greatest revelations in life can come from a church sermon. I remember a few weeks back my church started a series about “reclaiming your purpose,” and the point of that particular sermon hit me hard enough that I had to write it down. It was a “fill in the blank” statement, and in my case it was this: Am I a dispatcher who just happens to be a Christian or am I a Christian that just happens to be a dispatcher? What a powerful question to ask, and it certainly got me thinking about how I view myself, my job, and my identity overall.

The average person in American Society is bound to carry many different identities over their lifetime. People define themselves by their jobs, parenthood, spouse, hobbies, vices, religion, politics and so much more. If you were to take a poll of which identity was the most important to people, you would certainly get some varied answers. Holding to these identities isn’t necessarily wrong, however most of them are fleeting. Not only are they fleeting, they are entirely tied to this world and we cannot take them with us when we die.

We are all guilty of letting the many hats we wear get the best of us. I myself am guilty of experiencing my own identity crisis. Recently, I have realized just how personal my identity as a dispatcher has become, to the point of possibly even being an idol. Due to the impact the hours have on family life, I have considered looking into an alternate career field, however I always hit the roadblock that giving up that identity would be giving up a large part of myself. The problem with this is the burden it places on my spiritual health and the limits it places on my ability to follow God’s plan. Most importantly, it is unhealthy to place so much of my value in an identity that I will not always have.

The simple resolution to the identity crisis is this: the most important identity you have is your identity in Christ! Who He says you are is much more important than who you are according to a job title. Fortunately, you don’t have to wonder and guess about it either because scripture has painted a beautiful picture of the identity you are endowed with in Christ. According to God’s word you are:

A New Creation

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Set Free

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

Transformed

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

God’s Temple

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

Chosen

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

A Child of God

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1

Redeemed

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” – Ephesians 1:7

Light of the World

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus paid the ultimate price to sanctify you and make these attributes possible. Depending on other sources for an identity will only leave you ultimately disappointed and the people tasked with supporting that identity will be burdened with a load they were never meant to carry. I would even say that God created us with a Jesus shaped hole in our soul and if we try to fill it with anything but Him, we will never feel complete. The great theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “My faith rests not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is doing for me.” By placing our identity in Christ at the forefront, His love will flow through and enrich every other aspect of life. Therefore, go forth and boldly be who you were created to be and the rest will fall within His will.

“Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us.” ~ John Piper

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A Harsh Reality

Every Sunday morning (that I’m not at work), I’ve grown accustomed to a cozy church routine. I wake up and get myself, my daughter, and my husband ready. We usually grab breakfast on the way, drop our daughter off at Kid’s Point, and enter the service in an uneventful fashion. I don’t have anxieties about bomb attacks or shootings. I don’t have to keep my faith a secret for fear of government consequences. As Christians in America, we have it made and it is easy to become complacent and blinded by the comfort of our freedom. As hard as it is to face, Christians all over the world exist in a totally different reality, one where following Jesus means imprisonment and death instead of comfort.

The harsh reality we must acknowledge is that 11 Christians are a killed a day worldwide for their decision to follow Jesus. During the Word Watch List 2019 reporting period, in the top 50 persecuting countries 4,136 Christians were killed for their faith, 2,625 were detained without trial and imprisoned, and 1,266 churches were attacked (opendoorusa.org). To make matters worse, these numbers are actually expected to increase in the years to come. Some notable recent attacks include church bombings on Easter in Sri Lanka that killed 290 people and a shooting at a church in Nigeria that killed 19. These facts are sobering and we cannot stand to ignore them. As grim as this reality seems, Jesus did not leave us without guidance as scripture has quite a bit to say about the persecution His followers would face.

1 Corinthians 1:18 states, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

This verse is true as the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and to some individuals and governments that “foolishness” is enough to justify killing and maiming people. Jesus warned his followers that they would encounter hardship and hatred in his name. He boldly exclaimed that He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword, meaning that His message and existence would cause great division, even among kin. In John 15:18 Jesus says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Jesus was so hated that he was scourged and crucified by His adversaries. If the Son of God and only sinless man to ever live was subjected to this treatment, why would we as His followers be treated any better? Jesus knew that the unwavering truth and righteousness of His message would anger those whom reject Him. Followers of Jesus have dealt with such persecution since Steven was stoned and became the first Christian martyr. Every single apostle, except for John, was eventually killed for proclaiming the gospel message. Even Paul, whom began as a persecutor, befell a martyr’s death. We are therefore forced to ask ourselves, is Jesus worth it? The answer is absolutely YES!

The freedom we have in Christ and His promise of salvation are well worth the possibility of hardship on earth. Those who do evil acts will one day face God’s judgment, while the persecuted will have the ultimate victory! 1 Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious spirit of God rests upon you.” Scripture is clear in encouraging believers to persevere in persecution and find our refuge in Jesus no matter what. Written in red as the words of Jesus, Matthew 5:10 says “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Furthermore, the majority of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy is about the realities of persecution and how Christians should handle them. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Paul recognized that his experiences would not be isolated to his time and would continue through history. He suggested for the church to respond by finding wisdom in the scriptures and continuing to do what God ordained. In other words, we are to keep calm and soldier on.

So this Sunday when it seems hard to get out of bed, remember believers all over the world that risk everything to worship Jesus in hiding. When the sermon seems long and you can’t think of anything but lunch, instead think of those that may not make it out of church alive. Do not let the harsh reality of global persecution dull the flames of your faith. Instead, find your faith strengthened by the realization that the gospel is so powerful, it poses a threat worthy of the efforts utilized in silencing it.

American Christians can learn so much from those abroad in hostile territories. The steadfast, pure faith they possess is something to strive for. Though we may never face death or imprisonment for our faith, we can still be inspired by them to live for Jesus as if our lives depended on it. No matter what evils are done, our faith in Jesus is the one thing that no individual or government can take away. The world may hate us, but thankfully we are not made for this world. We were made for Him.

“We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions.” ~ Vance Havner

God’s Grace Wasn’t Cheap

It’s no secret that modern culture has a habit of glorifying sin. It seems to some that this is a new phenomenon, however people have been burdened by sin since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, Cain killed Abel, and the rest is history. In ancient Jewish culture, people had to atone for their sins by ritual means and animal sacrifices. The need for this ended when Jesus died on the cross and offered Himself as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice. Now, we only need to have faith in Jesus to receive salvation and live in a state of grace. Ephesians 2:8 says,

             

              “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” 

God’s grace and the comfort that it offers is a beautiful testament to His love for us, but it has become twisted and abused over time. Many misguided souls see God’s grace and the symbol of the cross as a either a free pass to sin or a testament that sin no longer matters or exists. Of course, no one (other than Jesus) is perfect and we will slip up from time to time. However, living with this attitude not only can rob a believer of the sanctified life that Jesus intended for us when He died and later rose from the grave, it also severely cheapens His grace.

So we must ask ourselves, why is this view wrong and what does scripture say about how a believer should view sin? Romans 6:12-13 says,

              “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey it’s evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.” 

This is only one of many examples from the epistle letters in which Paul and the other apostles often condemned sin as still being an ugly, wicked thing. In the book of John, we have the account of Jesus pardoning the adulterous woman from a sentence of stoning by the Pharisees. Jesus told the Pharisees that he who was without sin should throw the first stone, and since none could claim such a thing the woman was pardoned and her sins were forgiven by Jesus. Many view this story as Jesus excusing her sin, however they forget that after forgiving her he told her to go and sin no more.  When calling people to follow Him, Jesus did not say to come along and hold onto your sin just in case, he called us to surrender it all, repent, and allow Him to fully transform our souls.

Jesus also taught that being in sin is a form of slavery. In John 8:34-36 he says,

              “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

              Jesus died to free us from sin, not give us permission to further enslave ourselves to it. Romans 6:15-16 further enforces this by saying

            “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Scripture is clear that we are meant to be free from sin, not free to sin.

When it comes to the question of what is considered sin and what God expects of us, I encourage you to go straight to the source and read your Bibles. Open yourself to the voice of the Holy Spirit and let it be a guide. Psalm 119:11 says“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Jesus also summarized the new law as loving your neighbor as yourself and loving God with all of you heart, soul, and mind. The loving people part is pretty straightforward. Loving God is harder to grasp because it means trust, surrender, and obedience to His word.

‭            As I said before, no one can be perfect; but there is a huge difference between viewing sin as a struggle and viewing it as a desirable lifestyle to bathe ourselves in. To the truly saved, sin should be abhorrent. R.C. Sproul summarized it best when he said “The closer we are to God, the more the slightest sin will cause us deep sorrow.” The law was intended to highlight how impossible it is to overcome sin without Jesus, and overcoming it is only possible by allowing God’s grace through faith in Jesus to be a transformative force in our lives. That faith in Jesus should define how we view ourselves, how we treat others, and how we view the world and sin as a whole.

If this makes you feel convicted don’t worry, it makes me feel convicted as well. My journey has often made me reflect on my own shortcomings and realize just how thankful I am to have a perfect Savior to show me the way. That is the nature of sin and grace. Sin convicts, but grace transforms and saves. That grace did not come cheap and is not to be treated as such, for it came at a price worth far more than gold.

“When we think too lightly of sin, we think too lightly of the Savior.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Confessions of an Introverted Christian

Have you ever felt overwhelmed at a social event even though you wanted to be there? Do you feel the need to recharge and have alone time after spending time with a large group of people? Do you hate small talk and prefer the written word as a mode of expression? If you said yes to most or all of those questions, then you may be a member of the introvert club!

So what is an introvert, you may ask? An introvert can be defined as an individual that needs time alone to recharge and may shy away from excessive social interaction because it drains their mental energy. An introvert is usually quiet in unfamiliar situations and prefers a state of deep thought and inner reflection. These individuals are sometimes seen as being shy, rude, stuck up,or anti-social, but these labels are simply not true. Though it can feel as if the world was not made for us, as believers we can have comfort in knowing that God created us with just as much value and purpose in His kingdom as extroverts.

Being a Christian introvert myself, learning to fit in and contribute in a church community certainly has not been easy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my church family and I look forward to seeing familiar faces on Sunday mornings. However, it is a struggle nonetheless. I previously volunteered as a youth group leader for about 4 1/2 years. I truly loved the kids that I had the honor of impacting and it was an enriching spiritual experience to follow them on their walks with Christ. But, there was always the struggle of being uncomfortable at large group events and I felt super awkward until I got to know the kids and other leaders better. Even then, there was always the need to recharge with down time afterwards.

The same has also been true when it comes to small groups. God intended for Christians to exist with a sense of community instead of attempting to do life alone, but as an introvert that’s easier said than done. I have been a member of multiple small groups over the years as groups have disbanded, reshaped, and changed. Every time I start in a new group it is terrifying. This isn’t the fault of the people in the groups as they have always been friendly and welcoming. The terrifying part is the idea of interacting with a group of strangers and learning to open up to them on a spiritual level. It’s an introvert’s nightmare. Though I may want community and have a deep need for it, taking the leap and actually getting there is scary.

With these experiences and feelings of inadequacy in mind, it is easy to feel discouraged. What is an introverted Christian to do? Well, today I want you to know that God uses us too and introversion is not a mistake. God does not make mistakes and he didn’t start with us! In fact, there is evidence in scripture that Jesus himself was an introvert. He spent a lot of time interacting with people, performing miracles, and speaking to large crowds, however he also often withdrew himself to recharge after such activities. Luke 5:15-16 says,

“But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray.”

Jesus was certainly not rude, shy, or anti-social and it certainly was not a character flaw since Jesus did not have flaws. He came to this earth with the divine and important purpose of the salvation of mankind. It is not surprising that He needed substantial time to recharge through solitude and prayer in order to carry out God’s plan. If Jesus Himself needed these things, we should not feel ashamed for needing them as well.

It’s easy to feel defective or weird because you don’t thrive through interacting with people like extroverts do, but you don’t have to feel that way. God made everyone different therefore we all relate to the world in different ways. Being aware of your own needs as an introvert is the start to a fulfilling life of serving God and following His call whatever it may be. Introverts can benefit greatly by utilizing our quiet time as a powerful way to strengthen our relationship with God through prayer and reflection. We glorify God by accepting and embracing the nature He has blessed us with.

Conclusively, with the proper self care and time to recharge, introverted Christians can serve the kingdom of God in the same ways that extroverts do. We can be active members of churches and small groups and serve in any capacity that we are called to. From volunteering on Sunday mornings to international missions, we are called and capable. It is my belief that being reserved actually makes it easier to elevate Jesus above ourselves in ministry and daily life. C.S. Lewis once said, “Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.” With this as the ultimate mantra for the introverted Christian, we can thrive and reflect Christ in the process.

“The mere whisper of the Holy Spirit can drown out the thundering noise of an entire world.” ~ David Jeremiah

Strength to Endure: How Philippians 4:13 Can Impact Your Life

Every night while I give my toddler a bath, I always blast my contemporary Christian music playlist using Spotify. It has become ritual for me that relaxes us both and keeps things fun as I sing aloud to her while she splashes and giggles. One night whilst listening, the song “Strong Enough” by Matthew West (one of my many favorites) came on. The song features the line,” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” which is an ode to the famous verse in Philippians 4:13. Hearing the song inspired in me the thought that though that verse is so often taken out of context, it is still so sacred to a life of faith.

Walk into any Christian bookstore or Hobby Lobby and you will find this verse plastered all over coffee mugs, wall decor, T-shirt’s, anything you can think of. Tim Tebow even wore it on his eye black as a famous display during a football game. Due to its constant and universal application, it has actually become one of the most taken out-of-context verses in modern Christianity. Hear me out though, don’t go throwing out those coffee mugs just yet!

When invoked by most people, they take this verse to be an encouragement and inspiration towards personal accomplishment; doing big things! When read on its own it does appear to mean this, therefore the surrounding verses and some historical background are needed in order to understand the true meaning. Philippians 4:12-13 states,

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

In addition to including the preceding verse, I must also add that Paul was in prison under Roman captivity when he inscribed these words to the Philippian church. Paul certainly had a unique story as the apostle that experienced the transformation from the foremost Christian persecutor to the foremost writer of half of the New Testament. He travelled over many lands, met with many different people, and experienced the trials of torture and imprisonment for his commitment to the gospel message. If anyone knew the true experience of following Jesus through the highs and the lows, it was the Apostle Paul.

In his statement to the Philippians, Paul is actually conveying that he has been able to remain faithful and satisfied through all levels of comfort and trial because of strength drawn from Jesus Christ. It would be accurate to assume that by saying he could do all things, he also meant that he could endure all things. As opposed to being a mantra for success, it is actually a declaration of strength through Christ in suffering, and any other challenges that may come.

So what does this mean for us? Well to put it simply, life happens and things happen. Seasons will change and while some will feel so joy-filled, others will not be so easy. Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy in the first place. In Luke 21:16-17 Jesus told His followers, “You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me.” Living in America, it is unlikely that you will ever experience persecution like that but it is a reality for Christians all over the world. Yet, they still read their bibles, they still hold meetings, they still believe. They carry on the spirit of Paul today in the name of Jesus.

Religious persecution aside, life still has its hard moments and strength will be difficult to come by. Because of Paul’s words, we know we can endure all of those bad moments while also staying humble and grounded during the good ones; all because of a divine strength imbedded in us through Christ.

Over the course of his ministry, Paul was scourged, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, thirsted, and was ultimately decapitated, and he persevered with a content heart until the end. All of the apostles experienced these treatments under Roman persecution and all died violent deaths except for John, but they managed to spread the gospel anyway. Their perseverance catapulted the message of Jesus through history and resulted in there being 2.2 billion Christians worldwide 2000 years later. If their perseverance led to that, what could yours lead to?

So keep Philippians 4:13 on your heart, continue to drink from the mugs and display the home decor with the thought in mind that you can keep on surviving and with Jesus you can have a heart of contentment through the highs and lows as well: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalms 30:5).

“The world offers you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

The Way

I can faintly remember a time awhile back, I was working fire/rescue at work where there is a TV close by in the upper corner of the room. It was a slow weekend morning and not much was going on so I was watching the TV. There was some sort of morning news show on, not sure which one, and there were three self-proclaimed Christian ladies on the program talking to the host about life and their faith among other topics. All seemed normal and okay as the ladies talked, until one of them said something that made my jaw drop. “I think that there are many ways to God,” the lady said, perhaps in different words but along the same lines. I was so shaken by those words being spoken on TV by a person proclaiming to be a follower of Christ that I quickly changed the channel and sat with that moment in my head the rest of my shift.

The exclusivity of Jesus is a topic that many do not like to discuss in our current culture. I may cause division or offend just by writing about it myself in this post. However, I see it as a crucial attribute to Christianity that often comes under threat by false preachers and others that wish to mislead. By saying Jesus is exclusive I do not mean that access to him is exclusive. I am referring to the belief that Jesus was the Son of God and is the only hope of salvation through his death and resurrection; that He is the exclusive pathway to eternal life and the only access we have to God.

Religious pluralism, sometimes called universalism, is the idea that all or multiple religions can be true or that there are many pathways to God. Though it is impossible and illogical for the major religions to all be true due to obvious contradictions, if someone wants to subscribe to such belief, that is their prerogative. The major issue, and one of my biggest spiritual pet peeves, is when those whom profess to be Christians subscribe to this belief and actively spread it to other believers. Sincere belief in Jesus Christ as he appears and speaks in the Gospel account is not compatible with the idea of religious pluralism, and scripture clearly proves this point.

This begins with a very well known statement made by Jesus Christ himself in John 14:6…

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This declaration could not be more clear. For context, this response was given to the disciples when Jesus told them he was going to prepare a place for them and they exclaimed that they did not know where He was going and asked how to know the way. He authoritatively declared that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He also declared himself as the only way to the Father. As powerful as this verse is, His words were only the beginning.

During their respective ministries the apostles carried on this idea and reinforced it in their writings. Paul believed this to be a truth and crucial to the meaning of the Gospel. In his first letter to Timothy, he said,

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

In Acts, the apostle Luke wrote, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Since the Book of Acts is a historical account of the earliest days of the church following the resurrection, this statement shows that the idea of Jesus being the only way to salvation has persisted from the beginning.

So what does this all mean?

The simple truth is that truth is not subjective, and those that believe the Bible to be the inerrant, inspired Word of God must take these scriptures to heart and use them when the subject of universalism is at hand. I say these things out of love and sincere concern towards believers that may be swayed to falsehoods. Ephesians 6 instructs us to put on the full armor of God which includes “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The sword of the spirit exists to combat temptations and falsehoods faced by believers. False preachers often appeal to good feelings and emotion in order to deceive, therefore the solid rock of scripture is needed in order to resist.

Yes, the notions that everyone could go to heaven and that salvation has many routes do feel good. Such ideas also make it easy for Christians to neglect their responsibility to carry on the Great Commission. Why bother telling others about Christ or loving on them if they are going to be saved regardless? However good it may feel, universalism is not supported by scripture. In order to effectively change hearts and lives, it is imperative that the true Gospel be proclaimed to the masses. The broken souls of the world need the Jesus that is the way, not a version of Him that is only an option.

As a tip, I implore you to always put all Christian media products such as books, podcasts, and even blogs to the test of scripture as the ultimate measuring stick. Use the gift of discernment that God has blessed you with in order to differentiate good fruit from the rotten. If a piece of media does not make the cut, you can either call it out, run far away from it, or do both! Always remember that Jesus himself warned us that false teachers and ideas would flourish, however he did not leave us helpless to resist them.

~ We are saved by “grace alone,” through “faith alone,” in “Christ alone,” according to “scripture alone,” for the “glory of God alone.” – The 5 Solas of the Reformation ~

A Joyful Noise: 7 Ways to Worship

When most of you hear the word “worship” it likely conjures up many thoughts of things like Sunday mornings, the worship band, or maybe a catchy tune. Those thoughts certainly are not wrong… the main way we worship God is through music on Sunday mornings, but it is about so much more than that! In fact, everything that we do in our every day lives that glorifies God and contributes to our walk with Christ is a form of worship; worship is any action done in God’s name with the intent of furthering His kingdom here on earth as prescribed in scripture. With that in mind, let’s go through 7 ways you can worship God today!

1. Music

The obvious way that most people think of is through the use of music and singing. Praising God through music is mentioned in scripture in so many beautiful ways and it is something we are supposed to partake in and celebrate. Psalms 100:2 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” In fact, the entire book of Psalms is a collection of poems and songs written for the purpose of praising God.

Belting out a worship song with all your heart whether it be at church, in the car, or even in the shower, is one of the best feelings! Praising with music perhaps feels so good because in that moment our hearts and minds are completely set on Him. Though it feels great, the fact remains that worship is not for our glory, but for His. It is a wonderful privilege we have as God’s children that we get to praise him and we were created to do so.

So go ahead… scream out that verse with all your might, dance in circles, raise your hands towards heaven. Sing it like you mean it. Just remember as Scott Thompson from “Jesus Culture” said, “Worship doesn’t end when the song stops.”

2. Prayer

Though it is not as outwardly obvious as song, prayer is just as fundamental to the Christian life as praise. It is the act of direct communication between God and His children. During His life and ministry, Jesus himself frequently prayed to his Father. He demonstrated the importance of prayer when he gave the disciples instructions on how to do so properly in the form of “The Lord’s Prayer.” As praise by song is worship in public, prayer is worship in private; an intimate relationship with the Father.

We cannot hope to walk through this life and follow Jesus without this crucial action. The great Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Scripture tells us that we are to pray without ceasing; this means to consistently depend on the Lord in all things and all circumstances. The trust and dependence we have towards God when confiding in Him during prayer is worship in the deepest sense of the word.

3. Evangelism

Evangelism is defined as the spreading of the gospel by preaching or personal witness. The mandate to spread the Gospel is one of the last things Jesus gave to His followers before ascending into heaven. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” It is no surprise that telling others about Jesus Christ can be a form of worship! The disciples obeyed this mandate and managed to spread the message of Jesus throughout the world.

Because God possesses pure love as part of His nature, not much gives glory to Him more than sharing the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ with others. The seeds we plant in others may make the difference in their eternity. I won’t lie, it can be very awkward and difficult to share the Gospel, and not everyone will respond positively. Be prepared to answer questions, always approach it in a loving manner, and don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get the response you expected. You could have been the jump start to countless googling and truth searching for that person. We just have to plant the seed, God will do the rest and make it grow!

4. Giving Thanks

When we pray, it is usually because we are hurting or confused and need guidance, but we should also talk to God to thank him for the blessings we already have. A spirit of gratefulness is worship because it means living in a state of appreciation for who God is and what he has done. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This can mean thanking him for basic things like the food on your table or the roof over your head. On a deeper level it can mean recognizing how unworthy we are of God’s love and sacrifice yet he sent His son to die on the cross in our place anyway. The things we have on earth are nice, but nothing compares to the gift of Jesus Christ as the savior. Because we have an eternity of fellowship with Him to look forward to, little things just seem to matter less. The hope we receive from that knowledge is certainly something to give thanks for.

5. Acts of Service

In addition to loving God, Jesus also instructed us to love people. Loving people means doing things whether they be large or small that show you care about them. Acts of service can range anywhere from buying someone a cup of coffee to building schools in third world countries. If done in the name of Jesus and his love, any act of service is also an act of worship.

Recognizing these opportunities and learning to seize them is a normal part of development in your walk with Jesus. It doesn’t come easy at first, but reading about the works of Jesus and his disciples in the Bible can be a good place to start. I know you probably won’t be in the streets healing the blind or raising the dead, however the end game is the same: use love to inspire souls to follow Jesus and be saved. A simple act can be a culmination of service, worship, and evangelism all in one if it ends with an unbeliever or on-the-fencer seeking the deeper inspiration behind the the act.

6. Work

It’s 5am, your alarm clock goes off and hearing that sound makes you feel dread inside. It means it is time to drag yourself from the nice, toasty cocoon of your bed and drive yourself to whatever job you currently hold. Let’s be honest, work isn’t our favorite thing in the world, and most jobs just feel like they exist only as a source of income and serve no other purpose. If you’re one that gets fulfillment from your job, congratulations. You’re one of the lucky ones, as am I (refer to my last post).

Anyways, it can be hard to see our jobs as honoring to God, but it’s not impossible! According to Rick Warren, “Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His presence.” Even though you think your job is insignificant, having the right attitude can change everything. Do your work with the glory of God in mind and he can use it as a tool to transform you and those around you. Joy is very infectious and if you work with a joyful spirit, eventually those around you will catch on and ask why you’re so happy all the time. That is how seeds get planted! Even when it gets hard, go ahead and punch that time clock and do your best as if Jesus himself were your supervisor.

7. Obedience

This final method may be last, but it is certainly not least and is an integral part of a relationship with God on a personal level. Obedience. This one can be tough… our sinful nature as humans gives us the urge to do the opposite of obeying God’s words and direction for our lives. That’s why we need Jesus in the first place, because we could never do it on our own.

Making a decision to follow Jesus is more than a declaration, it is a complete transformation of our heart and desires. It means becoming a person that wants to obey God and is disgusted by sin. R.C. Sproul once said, “The closer we are to God the more the slightest sin will cause us deep sorrow.” That is because sin is the opposite of holiness and the closer one is to God’s holiness, the more offensive sins will become. I don’t mean this to make you feel guilty. Repentance isn’t about guilt… it’s about recognizing that God’s way is better than our way and we should leave our sinfulness behind and seek Jesus instead.

Obedience is worship because it is complete surrender to God’s will and an admittance that he is all powerful and worth obeying. It won’t be easy, but the peace and freedom that are found by living in obedience to God are totally worth it.

Conclusively, I can say without a doubt that worship isn’t just an action, it is a way of life. It’s the constant state of mind for a follower of Jesus. By doing all of these things, one can possess the strength, peace, and love to fight the enemy day after day, even during the tough times. Darlene Zschech said, “To worship in the light is an act of faith, to worship in the dark is an act of war.” Darkness may try to get us down, but we can overcome by continuing to praise God through it. So go ahead, make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! (Psalm 66:1-2)

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him all the earth.” ~ Psalm 96:9