Worship Blasts You Into a New Dimension

A friend, pastor Mike Howell, wrote something on Facebook this week that could have come straight from my own heart, “From the day I was saved at the age of six, God’s goodness has been with me. In my family, in the churches I have served, in every season God has been good. This song reflects my life story.

“And all my life You have been faithful And all my life You have been so, so good With every breath that I am able Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God”*

A prayer of mine lately is, “God give me a worshipping heart. Give me a thankful heart, a praising heart. Help me into your intimate presence, into your holy of holies.”

It’s Not Always Easy

Can I be honest with you? It’s not always easy to come into His presence. Now, for you theologians, I know God is everywhere and He’s in us, too. Yes! I agree. But, on my part, when I tumble out of bed in the morning, slurp a little coffee and attempt to praise and worship the King of kings the way He deserves to be worshipped, well my emotions, feelings, and droopy eyelids usually conspire against me.

Looking at Psalms 100, it seems like there is a pattern for approaching the Lord. It’s almost like a three-stage rocket blasting into space. We start out by thanking Him (accompanied by songs and yelps of joy). We praise Him for Who He is. Then we enter an intimate place of worship and communion with our Maker/Shepherd, who “owns” us and takes care of the intimate details of our lives.

–Thankfulness sees things as they are—we are humongous beneficiaries. It takes away entitlement and makes us genuinely grateful for God’s blessings.

Thanksgiving, praise and worship get our priorities straight. He’s God, not us. He’s the Maker/Owner, not us. He’s the provider, not us. This quickens our faith and dampens our pride.

In Romans chapter 1 men start to go off the rails when,”… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom 1:21, 22 NKJV)

An unthankful heart is a tasty treat for pride and anger. If you’re not grateful you open the door wide to all kinds of sins (read the list after Romans 1:22 to know what ungratefulness opens the door to). So … –Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, –And into His courts with praise. –Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Universal Principle?

Many of these “truths” work even for an unbeliever, to a point. A generous person is blessed. And studies have shown that thankful people are happier. Alex Lieberman, of the Founder’s Journal podcast, says,

“And while I was a skeptic…gratitude has been the greatest key to happiness and fulfillment… Gratitude is a mindset and it is a choice. It’s a choice to appreciate all that we receive, whether tangible or intangible, and whether in control or out of our control. It’s also a choice to acknowledge all of the goodness in our lives …gratitude changes how we see the world and how we see the world impacts our experience throughout life.”

That’s great. The only question I have is, “If you don’t acknowledge God, who are you grateful to?” Luck? Yourself? A great, cosmic, something-or-other?

I’m so thankful for Eternal God who made me, who reconciled me in His Son Jesus, who watches over me like a shepherd guards his sheep. A thankful person doesn’t think the world owes him. She’s so glad for all she receives. She considers each day a gift from God and treasures the people who populate her life. It makes her sing.

Thankfullness seems to be the first step in entering God’s presence. This launches the “rocket’s” second stage—praise.

–Praise sees God as He is—good, love, hope, peace, Savior, Redeemer, Lord and a million more things. When we see Him as He is, our faith blasts off. If I were to tell you that I was going to pay all your debts, you’d probably grin and say, “Thanks for the thought David, but your resources and my debts aren’t in the same bracket.

If Bill Gates honestly said he was going to pay your debts? Well, that’s a different thing. You evaluate our financial worth and get your hopes built up based on that. Praise estimates God at His true value and that causes hope to spring up within us and shout.

“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3, NKJV)

Praise Launches Stage Three

Praise propels us into worship and adoration.

–Worship experiences God in the Holy of holies. Worship spends time with God up close and personal. That’s when we realize, “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Ps. 100:5) Thanksgiving, praise and worship are the natural result of our life with Him.

*The Goodness of God–Jen Johnson, Brian Johnson, Ed Cash, Jason Ingram, and Ben Fielding. Bethel music

Praising With the Night Shift


My daughter is a nurse and she’s on the night shift. Like every good daddy I worry a bit because the graveyard shift wears you out and complicates your lifestyle.

Actually, night shift isn’t something new. I found the graveyard crew at work when I read Psalm 134. These praisers stayed up all night in the house of God to worship the King of kings. Praises rose up from that place 24 hours out of 24 when the night crew did its job.

I admire them because I must admit: after midnight I’m toast. God commands the night shift to praise Him.

“Come, bless God, all you servants of God!

You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God’s shrine, Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place,  and bless God.

(Psalm 134: 1, 2 The Message)

If I say, “Praise Me!” ?

Once I swept my wife into my romantic arms and asked, “Do you love me because I’m so handsome, or because I’m so intelligent, or because I’m so rich?”

She paused as if waiting for another choice, then said, “I just love you.” Kind of deflates your ego when you’re fishing for a compliment, huh? Continue reading

Surprising Problem With Birthdays

Surprising Problem With Birthdays

Up until a certain point in life, birthdays are jumping up and down times. Smiling occasions.

Then you reach a tipping point and they become, “Already?” And then … well, let’s just say it doesn’t get better. We can see that this is not heading in a good direction.

Anyway, you know the worst thing about birthdays? Your friends start to look so old that you actually feel sorry for them. (That’s your male friends. You ladies are exceptions to the rule.)

There they are, passing from gray hair to white hair and sometimes no hair. Wrinkles mark those marvelous faces and they start to look tired, even when they’re fresh, which is about one hour each day.

My friends ache in places that they didn’t even know they had places. And you know what? Gravity gets stronger as they get older, because everything about my friends seems to be sinking.

They droop, my friends do. Continue reading

Out Of Power? Try Praising Him

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur team was struggling a bit. With several other people, we were trying to start a church in Luxembourg City and at one time or other we had team members from at least three different countries helping us in our coffee house/street outreach.

One young lady was going through a particularly tough moment and decided to go home. That can happen to anyone, but I felt that in this particular situation it would be a spiritual setback for her. She needed to fight through.

I talked with her and helpfully gave her a cassette of a message that a pastor had sent me. Maybe this would help her respond in faith to her trial. Continue reading

Stretched Arms, Melons and Helping Mama



I stopped by the supermarket on my walk the other day. Then on my way home, I started to pass an elderly lady on the sidewalk but I stopped because it seemed she was having problems.

She had been to the supermarket, too, and she had a big plastic shopping bag full of groceries. Her optimism had outstripped her good sense and she was trying to get her breath back before going further with her load. In addition, she drug a foot, the result of a stroke a year or two before.

Since she seemed to be going in the same direction as me and I wasn’t in any special hurry, I volunteered to help. I’m not a Boy Scout but I am a Christian and it’s the sort of thing the Lord told us to do. That shopping sack of hers seemed to have lead in it. She would never have made it home because it turns out she lived about a kilometer away.

I had to change hands more than once before we got to our destination because the plastic sack was cutting into my hand. Finally, as we had slowly walked and shuffled and were nearing her destination she said to me, “I guess it wasn’t wise to buy that melon.” Continue reading