Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Heart of Worship


Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied:  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about you,
It's all about you, Jesus.
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about you,
It's all about you, Jesus.  ~Matt Redmon

The photo above is our church, Kennesaw United Methodist.  Needless to say, it's been quite a while since any congregant has been able to set foot in the building.  And even though our governor has given permission, under guidelines, to reopen churches in our state of Georgia, we will probably stay shuttered until mid-May.

Do I miss attending church, mixing and mingling with other members?  You know it!  And I'm willing to venture that you are missing church gatherings, too.

Yes, we can watch services online, and even meet as Sunday schools via Zoom, but it's simply not the same as being together, is it?

And this has gotten me to thinking deeply about all the whys and wherefores we attend church in the first place.

Do we show up on Sunday mornings in order to:

  • Teach Sunday school?
  • Spend time with friends?
  • Sing in the choir?
  • Serve the snacks and coffee?
  • Hear the sermon?
  • Put long overdue offerings in the collection plate?
  • Engage in corporate worship?
  • See and be seen?  (Perish the thought, but it happens!)
Being distanced from one another has provided plenty of opportunity for reflection about what the church truly means to us.

So, I've taken this time to reevaluate and recalibrate my relationship with Christ Jesus.  Am I growing stronger in my love for and trust in Him?  Am I praying with genuine sincerity, knowing He will listen and answer in His time?  Most importantly, does Jesus hold the seat of honor in my heart?

With all the distractions stripped away, it is easier for me to return to the heart of worship.  Because all the reasons we have for attending church are meaningless unless it's about the One who saves.

It's all about you, Jesus.

It's all about you.

Amen!

Click here to hear Matt Redmon's song, Heart of Worship

40 comments:

  1. The story behind Matt's song is captivating. His pastor was concerned that the people had lost the heart for worship and were enamored more by the music and musicians. So he called a halt to all music until he sensed a change in the people. Then he asked Matt to do a simple song. "The Heart of Worship" was born. may we all, like you Martha, do some recalibration of our heart. I miss seeing people and don't really care to be seen online, but it will have to do until we can get back together. But until then, a needed heart check is in order.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bill, for sharing the back story behind this song! That's something of which I was not aware, and it certainly makes incredible sense now. And yes, may we all do that heart check as we remain in isolation from one another.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. We go to church to BE with God. Yes, He is with us always, He visits our homes, (if we let Him), but it is also nice to visit Him every now and then, in His earthly home. In His Church, which is His people. Gathered together in prayer.

    Also, we go to church to improve ourselves. To learn. To discern. And to be better people.

    You have a gift for thoughtful posts, Martha. Thanx.

    God bless.

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    1. Going to church to be with God is the best reason there is, Victor! Yes, we can definitely experience Him outside of church, as we are doing right now, but I know that when I can return to services, I will never take them for granted ever again.
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Amen! I totally agree with you on this. I am truly missing our little church...the whole atmosphere of the music, the praise and worship, the love and the hugs, and of course the Word of God proclaimed, and partaking of Communion together. I feel so disconnected right now from our people, but not from the Lord. Thankfully He is always right here with us if we just pay attention to that reality. He comforts us and cares for us, and gives us warm hugs when we need it most. Perhaps this time is good for us to all realize that is the most important part of "church"...Jesus above all else. Amen.

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    1. I hear you, Pamela, loud and clear, about what you're missing most about being able to attend church, but we both know that the Lord walks with us daily, and is ever present in our times of need. We can get back to Jesus, the heart of worship, even when we can't be gathered together in one place.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Great stuff, Martha. Here in Alberta, church services may not be permitted until September. :-(

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    1. Not until September??? Oh, Frank, that does seem truly over the top! And I have to correct myself about the mid-May thought as I just found out this morning that our church won't open its doors until mid-June. So sad!
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Wonderful questions to ask ourselves! There's no question, I've grown closer to Jesus in the last few years. That said, however, I don't glean so much from our pastor's sermons. (Janet's a sweetheart and a great friend; I'd never say so to her face.) I think when all's said and done, I enjoy the sense of peace and camaraderie to be had inside the church walls.

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    1. Thanks for your candor here, Myra. Yes, we really do need each other to encourage and be encouraged at church. And as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus through it all, we will come out the better for it.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. I most definitely miss being able to gather together on Sunday mornings. Even though it's sad and hard it is a good reminder of what "the church" actually is. The church isn't a building it is the people who make up the body of Christ and we are still the church whether we are able to meet in building or not. The internet is such a blessing right now so we can watch services online, have coffee over Zoom calls and of course make good old fashioned phone calls to stay connected.
    But all that being said, I am waiting anxiously for the day when we get to all worship together under the same roof again! And meet up for coffee with friends. :)

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    1. Yes, Annie, we are definitely all waiting for the day when we can all worship together again. I used to think people spent way too much time on social media and the like, but boy, am I ever grateful to have it now! Such a comfort to be able to stay in touch with others and let them know that they are loved.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. Martha, your post is heart-felt and poses good questions. What purpose do we go to church really should be on our hearts and minds each week. Sadly, I've been a part of a church that cared more about being a show-place (and likely many showed up to be seen and to see who was there/not there) than having the Word preached. The church that I'm now part of is more focused on the Word, on being there to worship and to be equipped to go out and do, but we could likely do much better about focusing on true worship.

    While I've not heard about my church's decision regarding meeting this coming Sunday, I do know Iowa's governor is allowing churches to reopen (as well as some businesses) with some restrictions. I honestly don't see how that will happen due to the size of church I attend (keeping that 6 foot distance will be nigh impossible). Iowa's bishop is recommending not opening until June 1.

    May our focus turn more and more towards Jesus and away from ourselves and others.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. I'm so glad this post spoke to your heart, Kim! I think your bishop is on the right track as to safely reopening. I just found out this morning, after writing this blog, that our own church will not gather together until mid-June. Seems like an eternity! But it really is the right move considering a vast majority of our members are 65+. In the meantime, let's focus on our walk with Jesus!
      Love and blessings!

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  8. It really is a time for us individually to do a heart and motive check on why we attend church. I think this time away serves as a soul cleansing time and renewal for us because our nation and churches will never be the same. Indeed God knows our motives and I stand in agreement with you that we can recalibrate our relationship with Him and re-emerge better than ever! Though we miss church and the people may we all stand in earnest prayer. Great timely word Martha!

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    1. Thank you, Valerie! Yes, this is the perfect time for a complete soul cleansing, one we might never have taken had this pandemic not happened. May our prayers and self-examination lead us into a closer walk with Jesus, and may we take the renewal and revival we feel, and use it to spread the Good News!
      Love and blessings!

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  9. It will be interesting to see who all comes back to our church gatherings when this is over. More people? Less people? This is definitely a great time for each of us to concentrate on our individual relationships with Christ. But yes, I look forward to being able to gather in person again one day.

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    1. Those are good questions to ponder, Lisa, and ones I hadn't really thought about. Will there be more people or fewer? Oh, I hope the answer is more! No telling how many folks have been convicted during this trying time, and long to know more about Jesus and God's Word.
      Love and blessings!

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  10. Wow, Martha, Matt's song is absolutely perfect, clarifying, and Christ-honoring in these days of worshiping apart from our brothers and sisters in person.

    Our reunions, someday, will be glorious.

    Come quickly, Lord Jesus ...

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    1. Oh, yes, Linda, those reunions in the future will be absolutely glorious! I love how Pastor Bill gave the back story about how this song came to be, and oh, how it fits these times perfectly. Our Father has the big picture in His sites, and He can use it to our good and His glory.
      Love and blessings!

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  11. I love the questions you share, Martha. Especially the one about whether Jesus holds the seat of honor in our hearts. Yes, so important. This reminds me of when our pastor said in our live Easter service how churches would otherwise be busy with programs and activities and some even trying to outdo the other, but now it's simply being centered around God's Word. I love what Bill shares about the story behind Matt's song. Thank you for reminding us, dear friend, that it's all about Jesus! Love and blessings of hope and peace to you!

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    1. Yes, Trudy, it's all about Jesus, and I'm so grateful that you took the time to read Pastor Bill's back story. It certainly focused a laser light on what is going on in the church in these current times. May we be reminded, that when all our preconceived notions are stripped away, that what truly remains is Jesus and His unfailing love for us. Programs and activities are not wrong in and of themselves, but if our hearts are not in the right place, they are all for naught.
      Love and blessings!

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  12. I don’t know about others, but when I commune with other Christians, I feel closer to God. I miss the love I feel when in church. I miss the hugs too. Those are not the reasons I go to church, but scripture tells us “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27-17. We keep each other accountable. We go to church to worship God, but isn’t that what we are doing by showing our love for others? It is much harder to do when we can’t congregate, so we have to be more creative. Thank you, Martha, for giving us some powerful words for thought.

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    1. Thank you, Nells, for sharing your reasons for attending church here. They are all valid and uplifting. I know I miss those hugs, too! We do need to gather in order to encourage one another in the faith. Looking forward to the days when we can once again do so.
      Love and blessings!

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  13. I love that song! Thanks for this beautiful and heartfelt post.

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    1. I love that song, too, Beckie! It was one we sang often as a praise band years ago, and always convicted me of what worship really means.
      Love and blessings!

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  14. You know, I don't think it is coincidence at all that God allowed all of this to happen around the Passover, Easter, and Pentecost. We have allowed church to become our god, in many ways, and I believe He wants us to get our eyes off the physical and onto HIM. Solely Him. We can become too dependent on our pastors to bottle feed us and keep us spiritually afloat, but I believe God wants us to dig deep and learn to get our spiritual food straight from Him. We have far too many idols, even in our spirituality - just my opinion, but the Lord has been opening my eyes to so many things during this time. None of this is by chance. The timing is not by chance. He is trying to get our attention and wake us all up to the lethargy and apathetic state we have fallen into. I am feeling very humbled and in need of much spiritual help and seeking Him with my whole heart. Thank you for this thought-provoking post. It is spot on.

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    1. Amen, Cheryl! I do believe these times are God's wake-up call to all believers, and then some. Although I have no proof of this, my instincts tell me that many who have fallen away from the faith, or never had much in the first place, have turned to the Lord for strength, comfort and peace. May this crisis bring many into the Good Shepherd's fold!
      Love and blessings!

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  15. Dear Martha, you are such a beautiful saint and I want to say that I love you, even though we've never met in person, only talked on the phone. But you know what? I feel this bond with you. It's because of Christ in you and me. We are the temple of God. Love this post more than I can say. Your building is also lovely, but not nearly as lovely as you, the temple not made with hands but created in the very image of God. And now, the dwelling place of Christ Jesus. Maybe we can touch base by phone since we are isolated from the Body of Christ in our houses of worship.

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    1. Debra, your kind and caring words here just simply overwhelm me! You are right about the bond, too; though we've never met in person, we share the person of Christ in our hearts. And that bond is unbreakable! I love you, too, dear friend, and yes, we need to schedule a phone chat in the near future.
      Love and blessings!

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    2. Let me know when. FB message me at your convenience and we'll schedule.

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  16. You are using your time wisely, Martha. Your post reminded me of this quote by Miguel Petrosky: "We can believe that God is present and still be either six feet away or in the safety of our homes on Sunday morning. The church will always be the church no matter how physically close its members are. God isn’t just found in the confines of a physical church building — God meets us where we are."

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    1. That quote is absolutely wonderful, Laurie, and I thank you for sharing it here! God does meet us where we are, and is always present when we call upon Him.
      Love and blessings!

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  17. Love that song! I too have been thinking deeply during this time of limited distraction. Good thoughts, My Friend!
    Blessings!

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    1. Thank you, Loralu! This is a time to reflect upon how we treasure our relationship with the Lord, and to up our game in worshiping Him.
      Love and blessings!

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  18. So many gifts in this time away from the church buildings. Things we miss and things we take for granted and things we don't want back. Good overview! You made me think!

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    1. I'm so glad to know this post made you think and reflect, Jean. Their are gifts to be had during this time away, but I'm already looking forward to being able to resume corporate worship. I know I'll never take it for granted again.
      Love and blessings!

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