To Die For

Welcome to Journey 10 – To Die For

Continue your Omniallinfinitude™ Journey Here

 

To Die For is the tenth of the twelve Omniallinfinitude™ Journeys.  Each Journey is presented through 16 blog posts.  Even though we are now pausing or blogging a different Journey,  we highly recommend completing the journeys in order at your own pace.

Each Journey is made up of Journey Elements  (click for more information).  You can also view or download the PDF version of this Journey by clicking the To Die For graphic at the top of the right sidebar.

 

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Read each blog post in the order they were posted.
  2. Complete the Journey Elements contained in each post.  Each Journey covers one attribute group and one spiritual practice.  All of the Elements relate to these in some way.
  3. Return to the Blog Post – we encourage you to comment based on the specific assignment.  Read other’s comments and engage in an online conversation.  These posts and comments are ongoing.
  4. For more information see How Does This Work on the Main Omni page.
  5. Then move on to the next post.  You can access the individual post pages from the top menu bar under Journey Elements,  or by clicking the links below in this post.
  6. When you complete a Journey – move on to the next Journey.  The format and Element structure will be the same in all the Journeys.
  7. Each Journey will also have its own blog,  and each post will have its own page,  in addition to appearing in the complete blog.  This will make it easier to complete the blog at your own speed,  as well as for others who start later.   We will eventually have 12 active blogs with people participating in all of them at the same time.

 

Complete the Blog Posts below in this order:

Click on the links to go to the individual blog posts with their respective comments.  Once you click to the Journal pages,  scroll up to get to the beginning of the blog post.  Each Journal post will also appear on the Journey Element Page that it follows.  For example, Journal 10.1 will appear on the same page and directly under Remember and Read.

 

To Die For: What comes to your mind?

To Die For 1: Remember and Read

To Die For 2: Journal 10.1 – The Greatest of These

To Die For 3: Analyze – Color Coded, the Sequel

To Die For 4: Journal 10.2 – True Love

To Die For 5: Investigate – Love and 10 Things

To Die For 6: Journal 10.3 – The Game of Love

To Die For 7: Practice – Worship and Celebration and Why?

To Die For 8: Journal 10.4 – Who do you Love?

To Die For 9: Inventory – Your Relationships

To Die For 10: Journal 10.5 – Love Hurts

To Die For 11: Adventuring – Bless You!

To Die For 12: Journal 10.6 – The Power of Love

To Die For 13: More Cool Stuff – Mystery Solved

To Die For 14: Journal 10.7 – Nitty Gritty

To Die For 15: Lyrics

To Die For 16: Closure

 

While we encourage you to leave Comments,  we totally understand if you want to participate anonymously.  This format also works well for small groups meeting in person.  It’s ok to print out the PDF – just remember to keep a copy on your computer so you can use the links.

 

Credits for quotes,  music,  lyrics and videos appear in the Credits section in the back of the PDF.

Omniallinfinitude™ material may be reproduced as long as credit is given.  There is no fee for using this material.

 

Enjoy the Journey…..take your time….but take the Journey!

 

To Die For – What comes to mind?

What comes to your mind?

 

I love it!

I’m so excited I could just die!

That is just to die for – I must have it!images

So Beautiful
So Unique
So Rare
So Tasty

 

Obsession,  Pursuit,  Possession,  Mine.

 

Cars,  Food,  Concert Tickets,  Clothing and Shoes,  Jewelry,  Art,  Electronic Gadgets

Experiences,  Reservations,  Accomplishments,  Acceptance,  Entrance.

If we can’t have it,  we will just die!

 

Really?

But I love you so much.

But would I die for you?

Would I sacrifice for you?

Would you die for me?lorraine-american-cemetery-france

 

Perhaps for a family member,  a child

Some die for their countries,  others for causes,

Heroes,  Martyrs

They all find something worth dying for….Why?

So others might live.

 

And then there are some who risk it all for a thrill.

 

Love,  Love,  Love

Some say it makes the world go world.

Love is now god.

We all do strange and silly things for love

We surprise ourselves,  we didn’t know we had it in us.

 

Then we soon discover true love isn’t about us at all.Candy Hearts

 It’s about sacrificing,  giving,  serving,  waiting,  holding on

 Seeking their best at our expense

 Giving it all,  over and over and over again.

 Dying so they might live.

 

I love you that much!

But would I die for you?

Jesus said Yes! and He died so we might live.

 

We are To Die For.

That’s what love looks like when

God is Love.

 

 COMMENTS:

 (In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Before you begin Journey 10,  what comes to your mind as you ponder To Die For?

 

To Die For 1: Remember and Read

remember

1 John 4: 8-9

Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  (NIV)

 

Additional verses to remember :

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son,  that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

John 15:12 -13 – My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.   Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (NIV)

Mark 12:30 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (NIV)

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners,  Christ died for us. (NIV)

 

String around fingerWe always begin by memorizing the theme verse for each journey  (including Book, Chapter and Verse).  Think of this as the necessary foundation for future excellence – like practicing scales on the piano or doing wind sprints or swimming laps,  or taking your vitamins,  or eating your vegetables.

What is that I hear? – OH NO!  Not memorization….

We actually recall or remember all kinds of things we’ve memorized without really even trying.  Can you think of any?

How about your phone number,  email address,  street address,  zip code,  social security number,  birthday,  names of your family,  how to get to work,  how to drive a car,  that secret recipe….or how to spell or multiply,  song lyrics,  movie scenes,  jokes,  what someone was wearing,  what car they drove,  sports statistics,  what chocolate tastes like,  what the ocean smells like,  and on and on.

That’s why we call this element Remember – it’s the remembering that is important.

 

Why do we remember what we remember?

Actually,  recollection is just the tip of the memory iceberg.  Within our marvelous and mysterious brain the memory works in collaboration with us and the world – it uses all our senses and emotions.  We associate smells,  colors,  places,  rituals,  symbols,  landmarks,  even people,  with memories and when we sense the trigger,  we remember.

For now you will just have to take my word for it – there are tremendous spiritual benefits from Remembering Bible verses:

  • Strengthens our faith
  • Shapes how we view the world
  • Makes God’s Word immediately accessible
  • Guards our minds

Here are some hints to help you get started.  We all learn differently – so don’t be afraid to try some of the more unusual methods.  Plus – some of them are just plain fun.   And not only do we need to remember the verse,  we need to remember to work on remembering the verse….double whammy!

Write the verse on several post it notes or index cards and put it where you will see it such as the car,  the bathroom mirror,  the kitchen sink,  a bulletin board,  your computer screen saver,  your cell phone,  your Facebook status,  by your bed…..Or use one of the many Scripture Memory APPs now available for phones and tablets.   Scripture Typer is one of our favorites.

  • Make plans to spend five minutes,  twice a day  (usually as you get up and before bed)  to review.  Review often…..
  • Say it slowly, 15 times in a row,  emphasizing each word.
  • If you have already learned it in another translation,  review that one.  Once you know it in one,  look it up in a couple of others to see what is different.
  • Review it when you are waiting in line,  or on hold on the phone.
  • Sing it – make up a tune to go with it,  or say it with an accent.
  • Rap it,  paint it,  draw it,  doodle it,  or diagram it like in Pictionary
  • For extra credit,  add the verse before and the verse after.

I like to think of this remember process as Texting or Tweeting My Brain and then having my brain Text or Tweet me back.

 

Also,  remember there is a downloadable PDF available for this Journey – click on the graphic at the top of the right sidebar.  You can download it and save it on your computer where it will link to the online Bible,  a dictionary,  the videos and the songs for this Journey.  You can also type into it and of course you can print it out.  We highly encourage – however you chose to record your discoveries and experiences – everyone to periodically comment online and read each other’s comments.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Don’t forget the REMEMBER verses from Journeys 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8 and 9 – What were they?  Keep reviewing them daily.  Try to use them in conversation and to encourage others.

 

read

  1 Corinthians 12-13,   Ephesians 5-6

(you can change translations after you click the blue chapter links to read in other translations)

 

Please read through these four chapters in one sitting,  on three separate days;  once from a modern translation,  once in a modern paraphrase,  and then finally with a pad and pencil by as you record your thoughts and observations.  It is also helpful to read the selections aloud.   As you read, underline words that describe who God is or the names He is called.   The blue Bible Chapter links above will bring up an online Bible and you can change the translation to whatever you want.

This element is about reading what it says – try to put aside any preconceived ideas about what you think it says,  or what you may have concluded based on other studies or classes.   We are not saying those ideas are wrong,  but for this Element,  we just want to read it as if for the first time.   Please read for the storyline – and see if you can then faithfully retell it in your own words.

 

Since you cannot type into this blog – we suggest you record your answers in a journal or download/print the PDF version.

First Reading:  Modern Translation – which one did you use?

Second Reading:  Modern Paraphrase – which one did you use?

Third Reading:  Reading Notes

1 Corinthians 12:

1 Corinthians 13:

Ephesians 5:

Ephesians 6:

Descriptions of God:

Names used for God:

 

COMMENT: 

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Share with us any names or descriptions of God you discovered.  Also share any personal observations or experiences from just reading to see what it says.

Our next blog post will be To Die For 2: Journal 10.1 – The Greatest of These.

 

To Die For 2: Journal 10.1 – The Greatest of These

 

How could a loving God…….?

 

In the last journey we discovered our sinfulness requires the punishment demanded by a Holy and Just God.  We dare whisper that left to ourselves we get what we deserve – eternity in Hell.

 

How could a loving God…..?

 I love you handwritten

Yet,  God in his Mercy provided an escape,  a rescue,  a hand that helps us up so that we end up not getting what we deserve – eternity in Hell.

 

How could a loving God….?

 

God doesn’t’ stop there.  The Grace of God steps in and provides a hand that helps us out,  giving us gifts instead of punishment,  both for this present world and eternity.  In an ungracious world,  we receive undeserved forgiveness,  redemption,  freedom and Heaven.

 

How could a loving God…..?

 

At this point something rather unique and incredible happens….

We begin to realize that Christianity is not about man reaching up,  working his way to be good enough for God…

But that God,  wants a relationship with His creation,  and has reached down to man and invited him into this relationship.

He then provided the means to the relationship,  Jesus,  not because it does anything for Him,

But because it does everything for us.

 

How could a loving God…..?

 

God is love

Because God is love.

Love comes from God.  Without Him,  there would be no love at all.

Love begins and ends in God.

The world would know nothing of love if not for God.

 

No God,  no love.

Know God,  know love.

 

Love is the relational attribute and the model for all our relationships.

Love is the greatest of these,

The motive for all He does.

 

And we can only love because He first loved us.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Explain how we’ve changed “God is Love” into “Love is God”.

Our next blog post will be To Die For 3: Analyze – Color Coded – The Sequel.

 

To Die For 3: Analyze – Color Coded – the Sequel

analyze

Color Coded – The Sequel

 

Pick a colored highlighter for each of the following categories and then mark with the appropriate color the sections of the passage below from I Corinthians 13 that qualify.  (See Journey One: Analyze)

     Category                                                            Color

  1. Godly pursuits
  2. Unloving results
  3. Characteristics of love
  4. What will cease
  5. What will be perfected or remain

 

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,  but have not love,  I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,  and if I have a faith that can move mountains,  but have not love,  I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,  but have not love,  I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient,  love is kind.  It does not envy,  it does not boast,  it is not proud.  5 It is not rude,  it is not self-seeking,  it is not easily angered,  it keeps no record of wrongs.  6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  7 It always protects,  always trusts,  always hopes,  always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies,  they will cease;  where there are tongues,  they will be stilled;  where there is knowledge,  it will pass away.  9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  10 but when perfection comes,  the imperfect disappears.  11 When I was a child,  I talked like a child,  I thought like a child,  I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man,  I put childish ways behind me.  12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;  then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part;  then I shall know fully,  even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor 13:1-13   NIV

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Why do you think love is the greatest of these?

Our next blog post will be To Die For 4: Journal 10.2 – True Love.

 

To Die For 4: Journal 10.2 – True Love

 

 

Love,  Love,  Love

Love is all around,  yet everyone is searching for it.

 

More songs and poetry are written about love than any other topic –

From unrequited love,  to lost love,  to searching for love,  to finding lasting love –

True love seems so hard to find,  so illusive, so unattainable….

 

Our attempts at human love are at best only a reflection of the Love of God.

Love always requires an object – a Beloved,  for which it provides and seeks pleasure.

Since God is love,

Has been loving eternally,

And does not need anything outside Himself,  who is His Beloved?

 

God lives and loves in the Land of the Trinity,  each One loving each Other perfectly.  This is beyond our human ability to comprehend,  but it is the only way for God to be love as well as to give love perfectly.

  Beloved

Love requires relationship – another person,  a Beloved.

 

God,  the Trinity,  lives to enjoy,  honor, and serve One Another – this is why it was such a huge sacrifice for Jesus to come to earth and die,  and for the Father and the Holy Spirit to allow it.

  • God’s Love gives,
  • Freely,
  • With no points,  no expectation of reciprocity,  unconditionally,  sacrificially,
  • In order to make the Beloved great,  with no benefit to the lover.
  • Prompted by Goodwill,  with joy in the Beloved’s benefit and well being
  • There are no limits to His love.
  • He loves us “In spite of” who we are or do,  not “because of” who we are or do.

It’s all about the Beloved.

 

God’s Love Giving His Best so we can be our best.

There’s so much to be said of God’s love – we hardly ever begin to understand it.

 

Especially His Jealous Love,

His zeal to protect and preserve the love relationship with His supremely precious Beloved.

We understand jealousy.

It causes us to avenge any break in the relationship and to fight off competition for our love.

God does the same,  only with perfect motives.

He seeks to fight off the idols in our lives,  the world,  our secret sins,

All substitutes for His love.

This is why he dealt so seriously with idol worship in the Old Testament,

Because He knows how dangerous it is for us to substitute for the Truth.

And why in the New Testament he threatens churches who lose their zeal for God.

 

He loves first.

His love initiates the personal relationship available to us with Him.  We can only love because He first loved us.  God’s Love is the most precious of His attributes to the human soul.

 

Because His love is a Covenant love,  we are bound to Him so we have no fear in love.

Because His love is Friendly love,  He seeks our benefit and delights in us.

He cares about us,  about everything about us,

His love suffers,  disciplines,  waits,  costs,  sacrifices.

 Cross in Heart

His love is Mysterious love – proven by Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

The love of God – True love

So hard to understand because we love so imperfectly.

 

Yet God gives us the ability thru His Spirit,  as believers,  to love as He does.

As we are moved from our imperfect love to His perfect love we become great witnesses to those who do not know Him as we do.

 

They will know we are Christ Followers because His Love shines through us.

True Love,  Jealous Love,  Mysterious Love.

Perfect Love.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Give an example from your own knowledge or experience of God’s perfect true love,  jealous love and mysterious love and as well as our own imperfect true,  jealous and mysterious love.

 

Please read and ponder the Love Verses below:

John 3:16 – God loves the world

Mark 12:30-31 – Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

John 13: 34-35 – Love One Another

John 15:13 – Greater Love

John 14:15 – If you Love Me

1 Peter 4:8 – Love Covers

Matthew 5: 43-45 – Love your Enemies

I Corinthians 13 – Unselfish Love

I John 4: 7-21 – God is Love

Ephesians 3: 17-18 – Love of Christ surpasses all

 

Our next blog post will be To Die For 5: Investigate – Love & 10 things.

 

To Die For 5: Investigate – Love & 10 things

investigate

Love

 

Define:  Please write a brief definition for each word below in your journal or the PDF using a regular dictionary,  not a Bible dictionary.

j0387790(Click on any word to link to dictionary.com for the word’s definition)

 

∞   Love

   Jealousy

   Sacrifice

   Unconditional

   Passion

∞   Dedication

∞   Devotion

   Joy

   Pleasure

  Care

  Cherish

   Welfare

  Delight

   Friendship

   Loyalty

   Gift

 

Now write your own definition for To Die For.

Share it as a COMMENT.

 

Review:  Read the following verses and answer the questions.

(Click on any verse to link to an online Bible to read the verse.)

Who does God love?

Matthew 3:17,  John 3:35,  John 17:24

John 17:23,  1 John 3:1

John 3:16

Deuteronomy 7:6-9

Which of these verses cover or include you?

 

How would you describe God’s love?

1 John 4:19

1 Chronicles 16:34,  Psalm 119:76

Psalm 86:5,  Psalm 103:8-10

Jeremiah 31:3,  John 13:1

Romans 8:35-36

1 Corinthians 13:8,  Exodus 15:13

Numbers 14:19,  Psalm 86:5,  Ephesians 2:4

Psalm 109:21

 

How does God express His Love to us?

Matthew 5:45

John 3:16,  Galatians 2:20,  1 John 4:9-10

Romans 8:31-32, 37

Hebrews 12:5-6

James 1:12

 

What should our response be to God’s love toward us?

1 John 4:7-8, 11-12,  John 15:5-6

Hebrews 4:16

1 Peter 5:7

Matthew 6:25, 33-34

Ephesians 5:1-2

John 13:34, 15:9-17

Matthew 5:43-44

1 John 4:16-21

Romans 12:9-21

 

Conclude:

Summarize what you learned above in the three columns below.

God’s love is                         How God loves me                          How I love God

 

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Share your definition for To Die For.  Then share some of your answers to the questions in the Conclude section for this post as well as any other insights you gained from investigating the verses above.

 

10  things

To Die For

 

  1. Abba Father is an Aramaic term that means Dear Father or Daddy and was used in a family relationship. Jesus considered God the Father his Abba Father as they have a loving father son relationship.  This personal loving relationship is available to every believer through Jesus along with all the benefits Jesus Himself receives from the Father.
  1. A. W. Tozer  – “There is a love content in Christianity.  And discounting all the irresponsible things people do, there is nevertheless a deep,  healing,  emotional content in the Christian life.  That’s why the Bible calls the Church the Bride and Christ the Bridegroom.  He means that His people should know His love and that we should feel it and sense it.”
  1. J. I. Packer  – “When we looked at God’s wisdom and we saw something of his mind;  when we thought of his power,  we saw something of his hand and his arm,  when we considered his word,  we learned about his mouth;  but now,  contemplating his love,  we are to look into his heart.”
  1. David L. Hocking  – “No other quality of God’s character is so precious to the human soul than that of love.  God’s love will bring comfort and encouragement to the most depressed heart and discouraged life.  God loves us in ways most of us will never understand or ever appreciate.”
  1. Bruce L. Shelley  – “We say that “love is blind” – but never totally.  We love because we find something lovable in another.  We expect some return for our devotion.  But God’s love is different.  He loves without reasons – at least any reason known to men and women.”
  1. Love is a many Splendored Thing.
  1. Arthur W. Pink – “How little real love there is for God.  One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with his wondrous love for his people.”
  1. James Montgomery Boice – “There is no other way to know the love of God personally;  therefore there is really no other way to know the love of God at all….God has decreed that it is only in Christ that his great,  infinite,  giving,  sovereign and eternal love for sinners may be known.”
  1. Erwin McManus – “Our souls crave intimacy.  We are created to know God and to know love.  It is love that moves God toward us and love that pulls us toward him.  Follow love and it will guide you to God. Love is the beginning of all things.”
  1. The Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay.  Love isn’t love till you give it away.

     References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of To Die For.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal,  or the Comment section of this post.)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

Continue to review the Remember Verses and make sure you are up to date on all the prior postings.

Our next blog post will be To Die For 6: Journal 10.3 – The Game of Love.

 

To Die For 6: Journal 10.3 – The Game of Love

 

 

We have moved a long way away from God’s ideal of perfect love.

Just watch any television sitcom,  read any woman’s magazine,  log on to any dating or relationship website and you’ll find all kinds of advise on how to play the game of love.

Women play games.  Men play games.  Even parents and children play games.

We’re all looking for love but when we find it,  it seems the chase,  the pursuit,  or the game,  was much more satisfying than the end result.  Love is hard.  So we start the game all over again.

 

The reality of how we naturally love is 180 degrees from how God loves.  Human love is:

  • Manipulative,  Controlling and Self Centered:  We use people to meet our needs.
  • Centered on our own self-interest,  protection,  and needs gratification.
  • Demanding:  We want our way and that our needs should be met as proof of love.
  • Conditional:  We say,  “I love you because” or “If you loved me you would”.  We are more comfortable with conditional love because we know where we stand.  Conditional love sets rules and requires performance to earn love.
  • Lives in the past,  in our memory,  and is romanticized and unrealistic.
  • Unforgiving,  keeps score,  remembers wrongs and leads to bitterness.
  • Emotional:  Our feelings determine our commitment and feelings come and go
  • Temporary and Transitory,  no long term commitment,  moves on in tough times

 

When we get hurtUnknown

We get realistic,  become desensitized,  unwilling to risk,  and blind to love.

We put up walls and our hearts become hardened.

But we need love,

Because God created us to receive His love,

But so often we look to people to fill the love needs that only God’s love can fill.

 

When our human love is not returned it breaks our hearts.

Then we refuse to love others and God.

We don’t want to get hurt,  eventually become indifferent,  and think nobody cares.  It becomes a vicious circle.

We want people to love us for who we are – the good things about us and we in turn will love them back based on these very same things.

 

But God still cares about us,  even when we don’t care about Him.

We don’t care,  because no one else cares.

Then we try to figure out what we can do to earn some love,  anywhere,

because we really want desperately for someone to care about us.

 

We’ve forgotten God is the source of love.

We don’t know the truth about love.  We believe the lies the world tells us and we end up seeking a counterfeit love.

And our relationships suffer.

There are no winners in the Game of Love.

 

God is love.  We love because He first loved us.

That’s where we need to start.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Evaluate your personal human love experience.  What types of human love have you given or received?  What games of love have you played?

Our next blog post will be To Die For 7: Practice – Worship & Why?

 

 

To Die For 7: Practice – Worship, Celebration & Why?

practice

Worship and Celebration

 

The Spiritual Practices put us in a place where we are better able to interact with our environment and God.  God can then reach inside our spirits and transform them.  Just as our body needs to eat,  breathe,  exercise,  drink,  sleep,  etc.,  so our spiritual self needs to make sure it is being sustained,  cared for,  and trained.  The results include spiritual growth,  a life controlled by the Holy Spirit,  evidence of the fruit of the spirit,  and the ultimate goal,  living life like Jesus did.

The Spiritual Practices are not:

  • Meritorious laws that earn favor with God
  • A way to show how spiritually mature we are
  • Unpleasant or difficult

Instead, they are:

  • Intentional
  • Activities we do that when practiced allow us to do activities we cannot now do.
  • Adaptable to work with our temperaments and gifts
  • Adjustable according to the rhythm and seasons of our lives

 

There are two kinds:

Abstinence – when we stop doing something that is perfectly normal to allow ourselves to focus more on God,  His Word,  and growing in godliness.  These also help us resist our tendency toward sins of commission  (when we do something we shouldn’t do).  We withdraw to breathe in all that God can provide to us,  breaking the hold that the world has on our lives.  Practices of Abstinence help ready us and create room for the Practices of Engagement.

Engagement – when we do certain activities that help us grow in Christ and obey his commandments.  The Practices of Abstinence have opened up the time and broken up the preoccupations so we are now free to learn of,  focus on,  and practice those things that God commands us to do.  These assist in keeping us from our tendency toward sins of omission  (not doing the things we should do).  We engage to breathe out all that God commands us.

This Journey Element requires more time than most to complete so break it down into sections.  The four opportunities to Comment provide obvious breaking points.

 

Worship

Living in Awe

 

We are all born worshipers;  created to worship the God who created us.

This internal desire is often distracted and refocused on false gods and religions,  idols made by our own hands,  little gods of wood and stone.  We lift up pursuits glorifying sex and pleasure,  money and greed,  success and power,  celebrity and fame.

If nothing else,  we worship ourselves and our stuff.  Idols abound,  all around,  and they loudly demand first place in our lives.

How Great Thou Art

The Ultimate Priority

God created all things to worship,  glorify and enjoy Him forever.  That includes you and me.  Our default setting is to worship.  We usually have no problem at all worshiping…..Our problem and struggle is with whom or what we worship.  God knew this and in Exodus 20 He makes it very clear whom we are to worship.

 

1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God,  who brought you out of Egypt,  out of the land of slavery.  3 “You shall have no other gods before me . 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;  for I,  the LORD your God,  am a jealous God,  punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

Jesus reaffirmed this same priority in Luke 10.

 

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.  “Teacher,”  he asked,  “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 “What is written in the Law?”  he replied.  “How do you read it?”  27 He answered:  ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind';  and,  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”  28 “You have answered correctly,”  Jesus replied.  “Do this and you will live.”

 

Worship is defined as ascribing worth to something,  giving it high value and esteem.  Other words we might use to describe worship include honor,  exaltation,  and adoration When we worship the Most High God we affirm His supreme value,  His worthiness,  His true character.  This is our job description,  the reason for creation,  our highest priority.

Psalm 19 says that even the heavens declare the glory of God,  and in Luke 19,  Jesus claims the rocks themselves would cry out their praise if the disciples were silenced.

Paul in Romans 1 describes the consequences of neglecting appropriate worship.

 

For although they knew God,  they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,  but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Although they claimed to be wise,  they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,  and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.  Amen.

 

The Bible includes many examples of people who worshiped God in both acceptable and unacceptable ways.  We are urged in Romans 12 to be living sacrifices and in Hebrews 13 to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.  In Luke 10,  Jesus encourages Martha to join Mary who is sitting at his feet listening to Him because she has chosen what is better.

In John 4,  Jesus explains to the Samaritan Woman at the Well the following:

 

21 Jesus declared,  “Believe me,  woman,  a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;  we worship what we do know,  for salvation is from the Jews.  23 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.  24 God is spirit,  and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

We are to worship only God.  He is our only audience as we show our allegiance,  loyalty and appreciation to our King,  Savior and Creator.  We affirm His supreme eternal value,  character and position in contrast to ourselves.

 

“You are worthy,  our Lord and God,  to receive glory and honor and power,  for you created all things,  and by your will they were created and have their being.”  Revelation 4:11 (NIV)

 

We are to worship only God.

 

Acceptable Worship

Worship,  true worship,  ascribing worth to our Most High God,  is a spiritual practice of engagement.  Most all of the other spiritual practices we have learned up to this point are used to prepare for us to worship or as part of the worship process.  We need to actively participate.  There is no real way to learn about worship until you do it.

When we worship we catch a glimpse of the reality of God.

Most often worship is confused with a church service,  music and singing,  an emotional response,  or a place of worship.  However,  worship is not primarily an external activity,  but an internal response.  It can be assisted by music and liturgy,  but the music and liturgy are not to be watched or to become an end in themselves.  They are to lead us into worship,  not perform for us.

 

Audience of OneOftentimes we attend a worship service as a spectator,  watching the worship service from the stands.  Instead we need to realize we are the participants and God is an audience of ONE.  God seeks people who will worship Him.  He initiates and reveals Himself to us and we respond.

This is why it is so important to think rightly about God.  The better we know Him and understand what we can about Him,  the better we can worship or ascribe accurate worth to Him.  We go to give glory,  not to be blessed.  The issue isn’t did I get anything out of it,  but did I give glory to God.  Then the blessings come in response to our worship.

The foundation of true worship is based on redemption.  Jesus came to seek and to save with the specific purpose of producing worshiping people.  1 Peter 2 accurately describes who we are and how we should act accordingly.

 

9 But you are a chosen people,  a royal priesthood,  a holy nation,  a people belonging to God,  that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  10 Once you were not a people,  but now you are the people of God;  once you had not received mercy,  but now you have received mercy.

 

So, why should we worship?

 

Spirit and Truth

In John 4,  Jesus explains to the Woman at the Well that the Father seeks those who worship in spirit and in truth.  The place of worship,  or the Temple,  would no longer be the central focus.

 

19 “Sir,”  the woman said,  “I can see that you are a prophet.  20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain,  but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”  21 Jesus declared,  “Believe me,  woman,  a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;  we worship what we do know,  for salvation is from the Jews.  23 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.  24 God is spirit,  and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

The place we worship or the format or liturgy of our worship is not as important as the state of our hearts when we worship.  Worship should touch or bring forth passion for God.  But we also need knowledge of God or there is no worship in truth.  We need the balance of both passion and truth.  ”Only Spirit” worship leads to an overly emotional experience that wanes when the passion cools.  “Only Truth” worship results in a dry,  legalistic and joyless time with God.

True WorshipersSincerity

As we seek to worship in spirit and truth our worship should be sincere,  with pure motives,  without hypocrisy or a divided heart.  The question should never be what did I get out of it,  but did I give glory to God? We should worship with our whole heart,  guarding against just going through the motions.

Other attitudes necessary in worship include a humble and teachable spirit,  surrender,  sacrifice,  denial,  obedience,  thankfulness,  joy,  and amazement.

Focus

We need to make every effort to engage our body,  soul and spirit:  our minds,  emotions and actions as we worship. This is hard work and requires discipline and practice as we tend to wander,  doze,  multitask,  critique,  judge,  do everything else but worship.  Instead we should listen,  think,  and respond,  expecting God to speak directly to us in worship.  Just being there is not enough.  Block out any possible distractions,  remember why you’re there.

Worship is our response to God’s initiative toward us.  We respond to his revelation to us through music,  teaching, prayer,  confession,  and repentance.  Our minds are engaged and our spirits are moved.  We physically respond by standing,  bowing,  clapping,  lifting our hands.  We put our whole heart into it.  Everything else can wait.

Confession

It’s always important to come prepared to enter God’s presence,  prepared to respond to his initiative and revelation.  That means we still or quiet our spirits in Silence and Confess all known sins as well as forgiving any others we have not yet forgiven.  Sin and unforgiveness will short circuit our worship until we deal with them.

Our worship is not to be self centered,  self styled or selfish.  It is not to be designed around our needs.  We are not to put our abilities,  advantages or blessings above God.

Right knowledge of God

It is difficult to worship a God you do not know or think rightly about.  That is why we study His attributes,  His works,  and His promises to us.  That is why we read and study the Bible,  share testimonies and participate in community.  If we don’t think rightly about Him we will not worship him rightly.  We cannot ascribe worth to a God we do not see or know as worthy.

 

Recap of Worship Attitudes

  • In Spirit and In Truth  (John 4:23)
  • Responsive to God’s initiative
  • Sincere   (Matthew 5:8)
  • Experiential,  participatory,  creative
  • Focused and Engaged
  • Wholehearted  (Matthew 5:8, Mark 7:6, Acts 5:1-4)
  • Right with God – Confession and Forgiveness
  • Selfless,  humble,  sacrificial
  • Teachable,  obedient,  thankful,  joyful,  in awe.Not about you

 

Recap of Worship Killers

  • Hypocrisy (Matthew 18:8)
  • Directed to false gods,  idolatry
  • False motives
  • Unforgiveness
  • Unconfessed sin,  unrepentant
  • Gimmicks
  • In a self styled manner
  • With a divided heart
  • With activity/distraction/multitasking – Mary/Martha
  • Self centered and selfish
  • Focused on tradition instead of revelation
  • Only as an observer,  non participatory

 

Delight in the Lord

“I delight greatly in the Lord.  My soul rejoices in My God.” Isaiah 61:10

What a wonderful expression of true worship,  the delight and rejoicing that comes from one who has truly worshiped…..

We are commanded to do this very thing in Psalm 37:4…

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

And again in Psalm 112:1…..

Praise the Lord.  Blessed is the man who fears the Lord and finds great delight in His commands.

How do we learn to delight greatly,  to worship our King?  What is involved in accomplishing the spiritual practice of worship?

Obviously,  we now know it involves much more than just attending a worship service once a week,  or sitting at home reading your Bible.  Each of these activities is a good start,  but being a Christ follower is not a spectator sport.

 

If we worship regularly the following changes begin to show up in our lives.

  • Moves us from an attitude of getting to giving
  • Changes us from a critical spectator to a cooperative participant
  • Refocuses our worldly perspective to God’s heavenly one.
  • Purifies,  inspires, and strengthens us to serve God,  to go where He is going and do what He is doing.
  • Simply put,  we are transformed by God to be more like His Son,  and our lives and lifestyles have become avenues of worship.
  • Refocused on God with clarity, direction and obedience
  • Faith energized and gifts mobilized

 

Whenever we have a divine encounter with God we are changed for the better.  His thoughts and motives enter our hearts and minds and our faith is increased as we are strengthened.  You never finish worshiping and you can never worship enough.  That is why it is to be done regularly,  with purpose.  Worship is to become our priority and our service then flows from our worship.

We worship God for Who He is and Praise Him for what He has done.  We remember,  ponder,  delight,  thank,  and stand in awe of Him.  Once again,  this is why a correct understanding of God’s attributes is important.  If you don’t know who He is,  you can’t correctly ascribe to Him His worth.  If you don’t know what He has done and is doing,  and is doing for you,  you can’t appropriately praise or thank Him.

Anything less than the truth in worship is idolatry and God hates idolatry.  To worship is to see God as worthy,  to ascribe to Him great worth.  We have not worshiped until His Spirit touches our spirit,  and the beginning of that is to think rightly about God.

 

Getting from Here to There

Interestingly enough,  the “How” of worship is the least important issue.  We can and should worship in the following three different ways:

  • Personal worship – alone
  • Gathered with other believers – corporate
  • How we live our lives – our lifestyles can be a worship offering – Delighting in the Lord.

 

Many people confuse worship with a certain style of liturgy,  music,  or prayer,  when those are only the form or vehicle to worship.  There is no style of worship prescribed in the New Testament.  Examples of praise and thanksgiving in the Bible include dancing,  singing,  parades,  parties,  prayer,  building of altars,  meals,  rituals,  sacrifices,  feasts,  artistic creations,  offerings and holidays.  These are all forms of worship that were not used all the time,  but at specific appropriate occasions.

The key is if the worship style moves us or assists us in praise and adoration.

Emotions should be brought into worship,  but you may not be moved emotionally each time.  Different physical stances,  including standing,  kneeling,  lying prostrate,  lifting up holy hands,  looking up,  looking down,  open hands,  folded hands,  laying on of hands,  or clapping of hands,  and jumping up and down are all used.  Many times the worship style is culturally based and newcomers should be sensitive to their response and judgment.

You only learn how to worship by participating in worship We should commit to go regularly,  understanding that it is a practice with a purpose.  God seeks to transform us,  to touch us with His spirit,  as we do the one thing we were created to do – worship HIM.

 

Since worship engages our whole being we need to remember:

  • Not just about going to church
  • Not just being in the right place and the right time doing the right things
  • Not focused around what will meet our needs
  • Not manipulated or manipulating
  • Regularly done with other believers, the fullest expression of the people of God
  • Done through the power of the Holy Spirit,  His Spirit touching our spirit
  • It’s something we do,  focus on,  prepare for,  so God can be glorified and we can be transformed
  • It’s wholehearted,  free,  unafraid,  expectant and truthful
  • It’s the mark of a saving faith
  • It’s only directed at the One True God through His Son,  Jesus Christ.

 

Ways to Begin to Practice Worship

  1. The spiritual practice of Worship begins with individual personal worship.  This can be part of a daily quiet time,  or done as you listen to music or walk in nature.  Remember to focus on ascribing worth to God.
  1. Start out with silence,  then listen and observe.  What attributes of God come to mind?
  1. What names of God come to mind?
  1. What works of God come to mind?
  1. Verbally praise and thank Him for these.  Focus on his majesty and awesomeness.
  1. Listen expectantly for his initiative and respond to it.  As God reveals Himself to you,  respond in worship.
  1. Acknowledge your position relative to his:Stand in Awe

Finite meets Infinite

Creation meets Creator

Forgiven meets Forgiver

Delivered meets Deliverer

Sheep meets Shepherd

You get the idea!

  1. Try different positions in your personal worship time.  Lie prostrate on the floor,  kneel,  or lift up your hands to heaven.
  1. You might design special individual worship retreats or getaways to a place where you can be still and focus.
  1. Some great ideas for inspirational natural worship situations include:  sunsets,  cloud formations,  mountains,  oceans,  starry nights,  forests,  underwater scenery,  looking out an airplane window…..anywhere the amazing beauty of God’s creation can be experienced.
  1. Personal worship can only be learned by doing it.  It is between you and God and is why he created you.  Don’t wait too long to begin your worship adventure.
  1. Use the Psalms as a guide for your personal worship.  Read them out loud and look for the many reasons the Psalmist worshiped and praised God.  Make these reasons your own.  At the end of this section there is a list of Psalms to use to get started.

 

Gathering Together

Almost everyone associates a church service with worship.  Corporate worship usually incorporates a combination of music and singing,  teaching or sermons,  prayer,  praise,  giving and service.

The spiritual practice of Worship continues as we are commanded not to neglect gathering together,  as well as to gather together in Jesus name.  We are better together than we are apart.  Gathering together shows God even more worth than we can show as individuals.  He is worthy of our corporate worship.

There is no worship style prescribed in the New Testament.  Yet,  most Biblical examples show it should be participatory,  experiential,  creative and focused on God,  the Trinity.  It is not a show that we observe.  We should go prepared to worship and absorb any distractions with Thanksgiving.

Worship services vary in music style,  teaching style,  cultural styles,  liturgy,  complexity,  posture,  length,  degree of formality,  type of building,  and number of worshipers.  You can worship in a cathedral,  in a warehouse,  in a park and in a cave.  Many believers around the world worship in secret.  And yet,  God accepts all true worship no matter where it comes from.

You can check your worship afterwards by answering these three questions.

  1. Did I/we glorify God?
  2. Did our worship build up the church/other participants?
  3. Did our worship help us become more Christlike in our lives?

 

Do I Have to Go?

What if I don’t feel like going to church?

Because of some of the obvious and well publicized excesses in some established Christian churches,  there are periodically movements of believers who forgo regular church attendance altogether,  relying on personal worship,  or gatherings in small groups and house churches instead.

Because of technology there is now wide access to wonderful Christian teaching on video,  podcast,  television and over the internet at any time of day or night.  Christian worship music is also easily and widely accessible.

Sometimes our lives are just difficult.  Our culture works against our ability to get to church.  We don’t have time,  are tired,  angry,  depressed,  or getting the kids ready is too much hassle.  God will understand,  we feel we can just worship by ourselves,  we don’t like the people there,  they don’t do things the way we are used to,  the Pastor’s on vacation,  or we can watch Church TV and be fed just fine.

 

Sometimes church is difficult,  because people are difficult.  Sometimes God gives us a season of solitude.  We move and it’s hard to find a good church.  Where do you start?

The first thing to do is tell God how you feel.  Then go anyway,  go somewhere,  visit lots of churches.  This is the sacrifice of worship,  doing it when you don’t feel like it.  Keep praying about it.  Ask Him to help,  to show you where you need to change,  or to show you where to go to worship.

The hardest part of worship is remembering it is not about us,  but about God.  It is not an opiate,  a place to go to make us feel better,  to dull our pain,  to numb us,  to provide a place of escape.  Sometimes it is real hard work.

God promises to meet all those needs,  but through worship He will change us,  we will see things differently,  our faith will increase,  our hope will be pumped up,  our love will swell,  and our thoughts will become His thoughts.

 

If you currently have no place to worship with others,  talk to other believers,  look in your local paper,  check online websites,  or just drop in to that church you drive by everyday.  Many new Christ following communities or churches are not meeting in traditional church buildings but in schools,  malls,  business parks,  storefronts,  and many other kinds of places.  Many have services at alternate times,  not just on Sunday mornings.  So,  don’t be afraid to break out of the traditional mold to find the place where God wants you to worship.

 

Recap of Why we gather for worship:

  • Jesus promised to be with us when we gather in His Name  (Matthew 18:20)
  • Together we show greater honor or worship to God.
  • Example of early believers in Acts

 

Sweet Smelling Aroma

The result of practicing both individual and corporate worship is that our lifestyles become more and more like Christ’s.  Our love and worship of God reveals itself in our obedience and service to Him.  This is a lifelong process and begins as a response to the mercies we have received from God.

 

Therefore,  I urge you,  brothers,  in view of God’s mercy,  to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,  holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,  but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,  in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Romans 12:1-3 NIV

 

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,  do it all for the glory of God.  I Cor. 10:31 NIV

 

But you are a chosen people,  a royal priesthood,  a holy nation , a people belonging to God,  that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  10 Once you were not a people,  but now you are the people of God;  once you had not received mercy,  but now you have received mercy.  11 Dear friends,  I urge you,  as aliens and strangers in the world,  to abstain from sinful desires,  which war against your soul.  12 Live such good lives among the pagans that,  though they accuse you of doing wrong,  they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.  1 Peter 2:9-12 NIV

 

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV

 

Psalms and other Resources to use for Personal Worship

 

Psalm 8                                              Psalm 19                                            Psalm 24

Psalm 29                                            Psalm 34                                            Psalm 47

Psalm 48                                            Psalm 65                                            Psalm 66

Psalm 89                                            Psalm 92                                            Psalm 93

Psalm 95                                            Psalm 96                                            Psalm 98

Psalm 99                                            Psalm 100                                          Psalm 103

Psalm 104                                          Psalm 105                                          Psalm 121

Psalm 135                                          Psalm 139                                          Psalm 145

Psalm 146                                          Psalm 147                                          Psalm 148

Psalm 149                                          Psalm 150

 

Another excellent resource for personal worship information, study, and resources is the

Roadmaps For Worship online website.  There is also a Roadmaps for Worship book,  DVD and APP available.  All these resources are created and written by Dr. James Altizer.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Share your answers to the Personal Reflections on Worship questions.  Also share anything you learned from practicing Worship.

 

Celebration

Living with Joy

  

Can you even imagine a spiritual practice that says its ok to have some fun,  to laugh,  party,  dance,  sing,  make merry,  enjoy each others company,  eat,  eat,  and eat some more?

Celebration is somewhat of a subset of the Spiritual Practice of Worship so we will include it here.  Without celebration we would not have the strength to continue,  we would miss the joy of the Lord.  Celebration provides a break from the struggles,  the battles,  the everydayness of our lives and gives us pause to thank God,  to be grateful for all He has provided,  to remember what’s important and just enjoy each other.  It lifts our spirits and chases away the black celebrateclouds of sadness,  if even just for a short time.  We can relax,  recharge,  and be ready to go again.

 

Celebration is all about Joy.  And Joy is what is going on in Heaven.  Celebration gives us a little bit of heaven while we live out our purpose on earth.  It adds a bit of gaiety to our lives,  some festivity and hilarity, laughter,  and pizzazz.

After all,  with all we have been given through Christ,  we should be the most fun,  interesting,  free and alive people on earth.   Not stuffy,  grumpy,  and boring as we have been perceived for centuries,  whether deserved or not.

Celebration is carefree,  focusing on the good things God has provided,  the best things in others.  Its what keeps us going and reminds us of our hope for the future.  Paul encouraged the Philippians to think about things that were true,  right,  noble,  pure,  lovely,  admirable,  excellent,  and praiseworthy,  all things worthy of celebrating.  Celebration awakens our creativity and our sense of play.  It allows us to enjoy the creativity of others.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount,  Jesus encouraged his followers not to worry about anything,  that He would provide it all for them.  The world had enough trouble,  why should they add more to it.  Instead we are to raise the bar and celebrate the life we have been given.  It not only strengthens us with Joy,  its contagious to others who marvel at our positivity in such negative times.

The church incorporates celebrations or holidays into its calendar to remember and worship God and acknowledge His works.  Christmas,  celebrating the birth or incarnation of Jesus and Easter,  celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead are the two main Christian holidays.

 

Sacraments

The church also celebrates sacraments as part of worship,  remembering and honoring God with a visible outward act that commemorates an inward spiritual divine grace.  Sacraments remember or point to that which is sacred.  The two main sacraments in the Protestant Church are Baptism and Communion.

 

Water or Believer’s Baptism is a one time event,  an act of obedience and a public testimony for the believer about an inward experience and identification with Jesus including giving control of our lives over to God.  It signifies serious repentance,  change,  dying to self and a desire to live fully for Christ.  It also identifies the believer with the death,  burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:11-12)
communion
Communion is to be observed continually by the church until Jesus returns because Jesus told us to do so.  Many churches celebrate it once a month and at special services,  but some do it at every service.  Others have a special service just for communion.  (1 Cor. 11:24-26)

 

We are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in his life,  death and resurrection.

And when he had given thanks,  he broke it and said,  “This is my body,  which is for you;  do this in remembrance of me.”  1 Corinthians 11:24

We are also to examine ourselves.

A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

1 Corinthians 11:28

In addition we are proclaiming His death until He comes.  In this way it is a statement of faith.

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,  you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  1 Corinthians 11:26

And finally,  when we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ.  His life becomes our life and we become members of each other.

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf,  we , who are many,  are one body,  for we all partake of the one loaf.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Many churches celebrate Confirmation or a coming of age rite of passage that occurs in the pre teen years.  This process usually includes classes and training,  signaling a more mature faith.  The Catholic Church celebrates additional sacraments including Penance,  Marriage and Last Rites.

 

Ways to Begin to Practice Celebration

  1. Make sure to participate in Communion during a worship service on a regular basis.
  1. If you have not been baptized as a believer,  talk to your pastor about how to do this at your church.  A good way to find out is to observe other believers as they are baptized and participate in their celebration.
  1. Plan a celebration of your own.  If you are not set up for this where you live,  go to a restaurant,  park,  ballgame,  etc.
  1. Plan to have regular celebrations for birthdays,  holidays,  anniversaries,  etc.  If you already do this,  plan to do something different.  Change it up a bit.
  1. Pick a day each week to celebrate in some way,  or if that is too much,  then once a month.  It doesn’t have to be a big event.  This is just because you can.  You don’t need a reason,  it’s all about tapping into that heavenly Joy.
  1. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments and those of others as you go through life.  From a college degree to finishing a work project,  or maybe you updated your yard,  or restored your car,  everything is worthy of celebrating.
  1. Have spur of the moment celebrations – Call your friends,  invite your neighbors,  see what happens.  These are the best kinds.
  1. Save certain restaurants,  favorite foods,  desserts,  drinks,  plates and placemats,  for celebrations.
  1. Go crazy! Have fun!

 

Personal Reflections on Worship and Celebration:

  1. Read the following Psalms and share what you learn about the practice of Worship.

Psalm 34:

Psalm 66:

Psalm 92:

Psalm 95:

Psalm 100:

Psalm 103:

Psalm 145:

Psalm 150:

  1. In what areas of your life do you have a tendency to worship something else in addition to or in place of God?
  1. Please watch the 40 Million Minutes video linked here.  How do you need to readjust your life to make worship your ultimate priority?
  1. Evaluate the following elements of worship in your own personal experience.  What can you do to strengthen each area in order to worship better?

Sincerity:

Focus:

Confession:

Right knowledge of God:

  1. How do you currently participate in worship?  What changes would you like to make in the way you worship?  What changes would you like worship to make in you ? What kind of control do you have over this?
  1. What are some reasons you might want to skip church or corporate worship?  What might motivate you to go or to start going again?
  1. What are the benefits to you of personal and corporate worship?  How has it impacted your life?
  1. What are some celebrations that you participate in regularly?  How do they bring you joy?  How do you bring joy to them?

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Share your answers to the Personal Reflections on Celebration questions.  Also share anything you learned from practicing Celebration.

 

why?

Worship

 

Jesus –“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in 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

John MacArthur – “Glorifying God is the most crucial element of worship.  Worship is ascribing glory to God, recognizing His glory, and offering praise to Him for it.”

Scott Morton – “Sundays began to change for me when I began to see corporate worship as a spiritual discipline – one which focused on giving,  not getting.   As I did with the other spiritual disciplines,  I learned to make corporate worship a habit.”

God “You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath,  or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them:  for I, your God,  am a jealous God…..” Exodus 20:3-4 NIV

Richard Foster – “We must have ‘wineskins’ that will embody our experience of worship.   But the forms are not the worship;  they only lead us into the worship.  We are free in Christ to use whatever forms will enhance our worship,  and if any form hinders us from experiencing the living Christ – too bad for the form.”

Paul“Therefore,  I urge you brothers,  in view of God’s mercy,  to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,  holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.   Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good and pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Dallas Willard – “In worship we engage ourselves with, dwell upon, and express the greatness, beauty and goodness of God through thought and the use of words, rituals and symbols. We do this alone as well as in union with God’s people.”

Jesus Christ is our one, true worship Leader.

Richard Foster – “What we must see is that the real question in worship is not,  ‘What will meet my need?’  The real question is,  ‘What kind of worship does God call for?’  It is clear that God calls for whole hearted worship.  And it is as reasonable to expect wholehearted worship to be physical as to expect it to be cerebral.”

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of To Die For.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the PDF,  or the Comments section of this post)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

why?

Celebration

 

John Ortberg – “Ironically,  often the one thing that keeps me from experiencing joy is my preoccupation with self.  The very selfishness that keeps me from pouring myself out for the joy of others also keeps me from noticing and delighting in the myriad of small gifts God offers each day.”

Clement of Alexandria – “Worship is celebration.”

Moses“When Pharoah’s horses,  chariots, and horsemen went in the sea,  the Lord brought the water of the sea back over them,  but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.  Then Miriam the prophetess,  Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand,  and all the women followed her,  with tambourines and dancing.   Miriam sang to them,  “Sing to the LORD,  for he is highly exalted,  the horse and rider he has hurled into the sea.”  Exodus 15:20-21 NIV

King Solomon“Then I realized that it is good for a man to eat and drink and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him.   Moreover,  when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them,  to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life,  because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 NIV

Dallas Willard – “It is the completion of worship,  for it dwells on the greatness of God as shown in his goodness to us.  We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves,  our life,  our world,  in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness,  beauty,  and goodness.  We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us.”

C. S. Lewis – “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Richard Foster – “If celebration is primarily a corporate Discipline,  and it brings such benefit to the people of God,  how is it practiced?  The question is a good one,  for modern men and women have become so mechanized that we have snuffed out nearly all experiences of spontaneous joy.  Most of our experiences of celebration are artificial,  plastic.”

I’ve got that joy,  joy,  joy,  joy down in my heart,  down in my heart to stay.

Barbara Hoffman – “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road,  and celebrate the journey.”

Unknown author of a near perfect quote– “I think one of the most perfect times of the year to celebrate is by far Christmas Day.  After all,  it’s the celebration of the most perfect birth of the most perfect man who ever walked this earth.  Why not celebrate in a lavish way?”

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of To Die For.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the PDF,  or the Comments section of this post)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

The next post is  To Die For Me 8: Journal 10.4 – Who do you Love?.

 

To Die For 8: Journal 10.4 – Who do you Love?

 

 

In John 13:34,  Jesus commands his disciples to Love One Another.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan  (Luke 10:25-37)  explains how we are to Love our Neighbor.  We are also to love our Enemies,  our Husbands,  Wives and Children,  our Brothers and Sisters.  And we are to love them with God’s love,  not human love.

familyThat is a high calling and impossible without reliance on the Holy Spirit and the Love we ourselves receive from God.  God’s perfect relational love is our model.  Only He can teach us and often He does this through other believers’ examples.

 

C.S. Lewis in his book,  The Four Loves , has described the four different kinds of love referred to in the Bible based on the definitions of the different Greek words.

 

Affection Storge  (Romans 12:10)

This is the humblest love,  the love for those relationships that result from situations you are placed in by God,  not of your own choosing,  starting with your family.  This is best represented by the instinctual,  natural love a mother has for her newborn child.  While it is usually centered around need based family relationships,  it also can be expressed between coworkers,  neighbors,  classmates,  fellow travelers along the road,  even animals.

It is comfortable,  ordinary and easy to take advantage of.

It loves the unattractive and doesn’t expect too much from anyone,  is courteous and helpful.  This is the Good Samaritan Love,  the “just because” love,  the seeing the goodness in all men and creation type of love,  filling a need based love.

 

Friendship Philia  (John 11:3,16:27, 20:2, Matthew 10:37)

This is the least natural love and involves a choice between two individuals who have something in common.  Most often referred to as brotherly or platonic love,  it goes beyond companionship to a relationship where you do something together by choice.  This is the kind of love Christ Followers have for each other.

There is a decision to bestow affection and friendship with others of common insights interests,  or tastes,  with those who share the same truth as you.  It’s more than having casual friends or acquaintances.  Together you separate yourselves from the masses.

You have something to share and are traveling the same road together.

Friendship is free from the need to be needed.

There is no jealousy,  no qualifications,  but there is appreciation and admiration.  Outside of marriage,  friendship only occurs between people of the same sex.

This is rarely the kind of love referred to in the Bible as required between people and God.

God wants more than our chosen affection for Him.

 

Romantic Eros

This is passionate,  sexual,  romantic love that desires the other for itself.

It is more than sexual love but instead a total fascination with the Beloved.  This love is often referred to as Begotten love created by God to spur the reproduction of species through intimate attraction and pleasure.

While usually strong at the beginning of a relationship,  it tends to burn out unless it is moved up a notch by focusing more on the Beloved than on itself.

From the beginning it is the most corrupted of the loves by sin because it uses others to satisfy needs instead of mutual pleasure.  It is also the most sought after and celebrated of loves across the ages.  The sin of lust is often confused with Romantic love.

 

These three loves occur naturally in fallen man – all originally given by God but have become distorted and debased by sin.

 

God’s Love agape  (1 Corinthians 13, John 3:16)

This is the unselfish,  self-giving,  outgoing love of God.  It expresses His deep and constant love and interest towards an entirely unworthy mankind.  This creates a holy,  dedicated love in response back towards God,  as well as a practical love towards others who also love God.

We can only know this love because He first loved us.  It has been banished from human spirit until Holy Spirit can recreate it in us,  which happens when we respond to Jesus and His Good News.  Then it becomes the controlling and motivating factor in all three of the other loves that occur naturally in our being.

God’s love can operates through believers in any venue;  in the family,  the workplace,  the neighborhood,  the school,  the church,  with those in need and with enemies.  It permeates our hearts,  minds,  and wills to change our thoughts,  actions,  and feelings.

Love is patientAgape love is totally focused on the well being of the Beloved.  It does not consider itself AT ALL.  This is true Christian Love – because of our personal experience as recipients of God’s love we can love others as we are commanded to do by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.

Agape love is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions and pagan spiritual practices.  This is revealed through both God’s love for us and our love for each other and the world.  In fact,  agape love was such an unknown idea to the Greeks that they had to find a new word to describe it.

 

Here’s the bottom line in most religions:

  • A higher power lays out the conditions.
  • If we meet the conditions – we gain the love or miss the punishment.
  • If we follow the rules,  jump through the hoops – we gain the rewards.
  • Because it is Conditional Acceptance it is therefore controllable,  just like sinful man,  like us and we can easily relate.
  • This produces conformity – keeps everyone in line – we know what we need to do.
  • It’s easier in the long run.  And seems fair in our limited understanding.
  • This is how Man would design a religion.

Stay in the Box and you’ll be ok.

Instead,  God with his Agape love,  jumped right out of the box and made the first move.

 

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.   Augustine

 

We love because He first loved us.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Identify an example of a relationship where you have given and received Affection,  Friendship and Romantic Love.

Identify a time you either received or gave Agape Love.  How does Agape love energize the 3 natural loves:  Affection,  Friendship and Romantic Love?

Our next blog post will be To Die For 9: Inventory – Your Relationships.