When Worship is Difficult

It all started with a song. One inspired by Psalm 118. One Sunday morning in church, probably in late August when I had all but given up. Somewhere in the middle of singing praises to the Lord, this song started. I know it was in the middle because I was already standing and then the weight of it all hit me, and I just couldn’t any more.

🎶Oh, give thanks to the Lord

Oh give thanks to the Lord

For He is good

He is good

For He is good

He is good, oh

His steadfast love endures

Forever, forever He endures 🎶

You can listen to the song here : Psalm 118 (Your Steadfast Love)

The truth of this washed over me as tears fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it in my heart, because I had felt that He was everything but good at that moment. But my head knew it was true. His Spirit inside nudged me along. And I sang, though I was angry and hurt and broken. And when I couldn’t manage that for the tears, I mouthed the words. No one could hear them, but I was declaring the truth to the One who is Truth itself. It was my sacrifice of praise. While I didn’t want to acknowledge Him at all, it was really the only thing I could do.

If we praise God only when we’re getting what we want, how is He different from a genie in a magic lamp? His love for us is unconditional, and what’s more, He is God. That fact alone deems Him worthy of worship. Always.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth;

    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

~1 Chronicles 16:29-31

This is not easy. It’s not easy to worship God when you feel unseen by Him. Or when you can’t help but think He’s holding out on you. We all have ups and downs. Times when we feel super close with our Lord and times when we distance ourselves. But He stays the same. He doesn’t change. He sees our struggles and heartache. He sees our success and joy. None of our circumstances can change who God is and so our worship of Him should remain steady through it all.

A few months later, probably some time in November (after we knew I was pregnant), we sang the same song again. As the words began I couldn’t help but cry. Not out of brokenness this time, but because I knew, with all my being, the truth and grace in the words. He was good to me and His love endured. Through all my craziness. Through all my doubts. And sorrow. And questioning. How could I have ever thought differently? I praised Him for His providence in it all; not knowing the reasoning behind it, but grateful that He did.

I don’t know where you are, dear friend. You may be high on a mountain or low in a valley. Know this truth, wherever you find yourself; God is God and He is good. Always.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Thankfulness: Day 18

Creation resounds with praise to the King.

Without voice, of His glories it sings.

Sky and wind and tree and brook,

They all partake in, they cannot forsake Him.

While we sleep, it does not rest.

The stars take up their unending quest

To bring praise and honor to the Lord.

While we think of ourselves great,

We are really quite small,

In comparison to this celestial ball

As it makes its way around the sun.

He made it all, so of Him it tells.

Let us sit, and listen a spell,

As creation sings praise to the King.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 8

Since yesterday I’ve had the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” stuck in my head. I found it ironic, because if I were to add up my prayer time for the month so far, I might get up to 30 minutes.

This has been something I’ve been struggling with for some time; finding taking the time to spend with my God. To cry out to Him. To call upon His strength. To repent and ask His forgiveness. To praise Him for His many blessings.

And then this songs pops into my head. And I suggest it as one we use to open our LifeGroup tonight. It reminds me that I can leave it all with Him. All my worries, sorrows, pain. And I can find rest there.

So today I am thankful for two things: these songs that were written to remind us of Truth when we’ve forgotten; and a God Who is always ready to listen when we come to Him.

Oh that I would remember that daily and put it into practice. I hope you’re able to do the same.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

What I Love About Sundays

A simple list; because that’s sometimes all you need:

*Being with the family of God

*Sharing; joys, needs, praises, hurts

*Sunday morning I’m-so-glad-to-see-you smiles (and hugs)

*Singing praise & glory to our God & King

*Hearing the voices of loved ones that stand out from all the rest while singing

*Witnessing love as a husband’s hand sets upon his wife’s while they worship together

*Being in communion with God, though there is not one thing I’ve done to deserve it

*Being reminded that “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe”

*The voice of a sister in prayer, giving thanks to our God for His provision, always

*Being reminded, once again, at only Jesus saves; as much as we love things and/or people of this earth they can never provide us with the same benefits as He does

*Resting in and being renewed by my God; the only One able to take this mess of a person and use her for His glory & the good of His kingdom

I hope you’ve gotten to experience at least a few of the same today.

Love & Blessing,

KJ

Joy-filled Worship

Standing in front of the congregation at church this morning, singing praise and worship to the Lord, there was joy in the room that I could not only feel, but also see. Most of the time I have a dual focus; 1) worshiping my Lord and Savior and 2) making sure I change the slides at the right time so the congregation can follow along :).  I do not often look at individuals in front of me because I feel awkward doing so, almost as if I’m an intruder in something that is very special to each person. This morning, though, I couldn’t help it. As we started service with “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” my eye was caught by one of my Sisters joyfully singing and moving to the music. I heard her separate from the rest of the congregation and no other word could better express her whole being than joy-filled. It was contagious and I could feel the smile broadening on my face and my spirit lifting as I sang praise to God. ‘This is what worship should feel like,’ I thought to myself as the song continued.

While acts of worship come in various forms (from singing and praying to giving and studying His Word), I have always been especially moved by worshiping through song. I sing at my church with the music team that can consist of 2-5 people on any given Sunday. I am not standing in front of the congregation to perform for them, but rather, I am standing and singing praise to my God, giving glory to Him, and encouraging others to do the same. Every now and again I am reminded of where my focus should be and last week it happened as I was watching TV.

Strange, you think. Well, I do, too, but let me explain. I was at a friend’s house indulgently watching her TV (I do not have cable at my house) and caught “Dancing with the Stars.” I remembered hearing that Candace Cameron Bure was on this season and wondered if she was still in the competition. To my delight, she was (and still is!). The remaining stars had meetings with someone they respected and looked up to and they showed a short conversation Candace had with Angela Thomas (Angela’s thoughts on taping the segment can be found here) who is a Bible teacher and author. I was thrilled when I heard them discussing the joy that is evident in Candace when she is dancing and that is because her joy is complete in Jesus Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy.  – Psalm 16:11a

And then Candace spoke of how, while she does enjoy dancing in front of all the people, she is really performing for an audience of One. I was just so amazed by seeing her so strongly and solidly standing in her faith in an arena that very rarely shows appreciation for such convictions. You can watch it for yourself here. When I relayed that part of the show to a younger friend of mine she commented, “It kind of makes you think, ‘What am I doing?’ doesn’t it?” Had I been 12 as well, I might have thought the same thing. Instead I was able to explain to her that our faith is something we live out and is evident to the people around us. We have influence that reaches much further than we imagine and God uses it for His glory when we stand in and exhibit that faith, whether we are on national television or hanging out with our friends. What matters most is that audience of One. As long as it is Him we are serving, praising, worshiping; as long as He is our focus, nothing else really matters.

And that’s when I thought of myself, standing up in front of church, and wondered how often I really do focus on my audience of One and how often the words come out of my mouth but my mind and heart are elsewhere. When the latter happens, I know there is no joy there; how can there be when my focus is on how I’m going to get my finances in order or how I do so wish a guy would walk into my life and sweep me off my feet….yea, not so much where my focus should be. But when we focus on the One who gave it all on our behalf, taking our sin upon Himself that we might become His righteousness, then and there do we find our joy and rightfully worship the only One who is truly worthy of any of it. Then can we lift up our hands and give it all to our audience of One.

Praying you are able to find your joy complete in the only One who can complete us all,

Love & Blessings,

KJ