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Updated: Aug 24

Ah…Fall! I love the fall season – the sights, smells and sounds of autumn. I enjoy most everything, except…when we get closer to Halloween… the inundation of horror movies on TV, whether on cable, Netflix or Hulu! While my husband likes to watch a scary movie or two, I usually vacate the room. However, he was recently watching one that caught my interest, so I sat in the room with him, while reading a magazine. (I couldn’t appear to be “too” interested in it!)

It was a teen comedy horror flick from the 80’s, called “Fright Night." The hero, Charley, is a teenage boy who is trying to prove that the new neighbor is a vampire and that he and his undead day guardian are responsible for a string of recent murders. The only one who can help him hunt them down is a washed-up actor, Peter Vincent (played by Roddy McDowall), who hosts Charley's favorite TV show, Fright Night. Vincent doesn't really believe that vampires exist, but does it for the money. Charley, however, believes that Vincent is an expert when it comes to vampires.

When Vincent eventually confronts the neighbor in his vampire form, he whips out a cross – fully expecting the creature to back down. But after “laughing maniacally” (per the closed captioning), the vampire/demon retorts, “In order for that to work, you have to have faith.” He then wraps his fingers around the cross and destroys it.

Meanwhile, Charley pulls out his own cross and approaches the vampire, who starts groaning and flees. Vincent is watching this is in disbelief.

Fast forward a few scenes and Vincent again encounters the vampire, pulls out a new cross and holds it toward him. The vampire says again, “You have to have faith for that to work.” At first, Vincent starts to back down, then looks back at Charley, his brave young friend. One can immediately sense Vincent’s floundering faith is bolstered, and he turns toward the vampire with a new-found confidence.

So what can “Fright Night” say about the Christ follower and faith? That if we don’t have faith, our belief in God’s power is floundering? “Oh, ye of little faith…” (Mt. 8:26) How about having “faith the size of a mustard seed?” (Mt. 17:20) But what if a little faith can indeed move mountains or when we doubt whether our faith has any power, we can see others who do have faith and then our faith is strengthened by their faith?

Now I’m not saying that a little faith is ineffective, but maybe we’ve been too influenced by the “faith-less” by not having faith in God’s power to work in the world today. Let’s look around us and draw upon the strength of the “faith-full,” to be encouraged to plant the mustard seed of faith and watch it grow into full confidence in God.

(This post originally was written for the Ashland Brethren in Christ website.)

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What do you think of when you hear the word worship? Do you think about the singing, the praying, or the sermon that takes place during a church service? Do you think about corporate worship - which is when people gather together - whether it’s in a building or on the internet? Do you think about individual worship - what you experience personally during a worship service? Let’s take it a step further. Do you think about worshiping not just on Sunday, but during the week, during each and every day?

One commentator stated that there are very few references to the word “worship” in the Gospels and that “many references to worship occur almost in passing. ...While the references to worship are almost incidental, however, worship itself is by no means peripheral. It is there in the Gospels in much the same way as the air that Jesus and the disciples breathed. It is so omnipresent [everywhere] that it is more assumed than mentioned.”

I like that phrase, “it is much the same way as the air that Jesus and the disciples breathed.For me, I want worship to be as essential in my life as the air I breathe. Which is why I set out to explore what a lifestyle of worship could look like.

Jesus himself addressed the issue of worship towards the end of his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem… But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24 (NLT)

The note in my study Bible makes these observations. First of all, Jesus points out that the location of worship is not nearly as important as the attitude of the worshipers. Secondly, he states that God is Spirit and that he is not limited to one place. He is everywhere, and he can be worshiped anywhere, at any time. It is not where we worship that is important, but how we worship.

You may understand what "worship" is, but the big questions are “How do we apply this? How do we live a life of worship? What are some steps we can take to help us cultivate a lifestyle of worship?” Or maybe you’re on this side - “I think I’m doing pretty well in the area of worship - what can I do to make it better?”

Living a life of worship takes practice - practicing Worship means creating new habits. As any musician or athlete will tell you, practice leads to muscle memory - the more you do it, the more comfortable you are with the music or the movement or execution of a play, that it becomes second nature. You still have to think about it, but it is so ingrained in you, that it becomes you.

The experts say it takes three weeks to make a habit. I found this interesting...have you heard about the 21/90 rule? “The 21/90 rule states that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change. ... Commit to your goal for 21 days and it will become a habit. Commit to your goal for 90 days and it will become a part of your lifestyle.”

You know how some people, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, pick a word or thought or action to focus on for the year? I normally don’t do either one. Well, my word came halfway through the year - Intentional. I decided that just going with the flow wasn’t going to cut it and I needed to really think about, be intentional, about what I was doing as well as how and why I was doing it. I also decided that I need to be more intentional about worshiping God in my day-to-day life.

Romans 12:1 states in the NIV: “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.” The New Living Translation adds this about worship; “This is truly the way to worship him.” I really appreciate how Petersen’s paraphrase in The Message puts it: “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him… Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

I heard this in an online devotional video on the John 4 passage: “To Worship God in Spirit and in Truth” can be understood this way. “We offer worship as the outward action (or actions) which reflects our inward devotion to God and what we offer as response is in agreement with the Word of God [truth]. It’s not just singing praises to God, all day long, but it’s in the choices we make.”

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Choosing to worship God with our lives, giving or sacrificing ourselves to Him and His service? Worshiping God doesn’t mean we have to go around singing or reciting poetry or praying every minute of every day. There are things that will distract us, things that will keep our focus away from God. This is where intentionality comes in. This is where practice, practice, practice is important.

How do we worship God in the midst of mundane chores and daily activities? I have a list of some suggestions. I borrowed some of these and added others to the list; they’re not in any particular order, but I think I would put numbers 3 and 4 at the top of the list.

  1. Give your best in whatever you’re doing. Working as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23-24)

  2. Take care of yourself - this points to Romans 12:1-2, which we already looked at.

  3. Put Him first in your mind. Having proper I-focus and paying attention to our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5). We can redirect our thoughts in and through worship.

  4. Stay in the moment. How often are we doing something but our thoughts are a million miles away? I love the new song that Jeremy Camp came out with - Keep Me in the Moment. Dr. David Jeremiah says that “living every moment in the wonder of worship will change the way you live every day.”

  5. Serve someone else - look for opportunities to serve as God’s hands and feet.

  6. Say it or Don’t Say it. The next time a nice thought about someone enters your mind, don’t keep it to yourself - share it. Call them, check up on them. (Hebrews 3:13) Conversely, we need to filter out unkind or unproductive words before others hear them. (James 1:10)

  7. Give generously; using our time, money, and talents honors God.

  8. Be thankful, even when things are difficult. (I Thess. 5:16-18)

  9. Think of worship as an experience, not an event. Have a sense of awe and wonder of God - experience Him. Adam and Eve experienced God in the garden, but when they were banished because of sin, worship became an event.

  10. Be regular at appointed times of corporate worship (Hebrews 10:24-25) There is something special about worshiping together alongside other believers, whether in person or online. Sometimes it’s the boost we need to help us worship throughout the rest of the week.

  11. Be regular at appointed times of personal worship. Some of us plan time with God while doing other things; I like to pray while I’m walking or even driving to work. However, it is hard to stay completely focused, as I have to be mindful of where I’m walking or be aware of other vehicles in traffic. We need to set aside priority time to be alone with God. And if you’re not doing that - don’t feel guilty - give yourself grace over guilt. But I would challenge you to start with 5-10 mins a day.

  12. Be open to the practice of unscheduled worship. Take those discretionary minutes, otherwise known as wasted time, and get in the practice of redeeming the time to focus on the Lord. (Ps. 16:7, 63:6, 119:48)

“What are you practicing? What habits are you cultivating?" Are you doing some of the things listed? Are there other things that you do, or think you could do, to help you worship God in your daily life? Remember that whatever we practice gets stronger. Whatever we pursue, whatever we pay attention to, turns out to be our focus.

Living the Life – a lifestyle of worship - am I there yet? No, but I want to be. What about you?

I want to circle back to John 4:23-24; in The Message: “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

The ultimate goal of worship is that we come to know God. When we’re changed from the inside out through our worship of God, we can be a testimony of what worshiping God with our lives looks like.

(This blog post was adapted from a sermon I preached at my home church, Ashland Brethren in Christ, on August 9. To read the full transcript or to listen to the message, click HERE.)

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Updated: Aug 21, 2020

As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And these have been and are continuing to be desperate times. The Coronavirus and Covid-19 safety measures, plus the civil unrest, have been politicized, conspiracized, and yes, even religicized, (not a word, but it sounded like it should be). But I won’t go there – plenty has been posted online, looking at these issues from every possible angle.

I started writing this blog post around the beginning of the stay-at-home recommendations or orders for Ohioans. The director at my part-time job decided that we should work from home (even though there are only two of us in the office), so I packed up the laptop, auxiliary keyboard, extra-large computer screen, put a stack of files in a box and headed home on the afternoon of March 23. Since most of my work is done on the computer, I thought working at home would be a piece of cake.

While my husband’s workplace deemed themselves “essential,” they decided with his health risks that he should take advantage of the federal government’s CARES-Act. This meant he would get paid through his employer for two weeks, and they sent him home on April 3. Then when things started to look bleaker concerning the Coronavirus and Covid-19, they recommended that he not come back to work until things settled down. Little did we know that he wouldn’t return to work until May 26, the day after Memorial Day. I didn’t go back to the office until June 1st.

I give you this bit of background to set the stage for what seemed to be a never-ending pall over me and our household. I’m still not quite sure what it was. A “funk” or “malaise” or something settled around us and try as I might, none of my “desperate measures," things that have worked for me in the past, seemed to be doing any good at all.

Yes, first of all, I kept praying, but it seemed like there were no answers coming back to me from God. I didn’t doubt that He heard me, but it seemed like there was some kind of disconnect happening. And I couldn’t figure out where and what that was. I prayed, walked and prayed, prayed and slept, prayed with others at our online prayer meetings and Zoom church, and prayed warfare prayers, but it felt as if nothing was happening to alieve the situation and it felt like God wasn’t speaking to me.

I tried reading my Bible more, read devotional materials, signed up for online Bible studies (only completed one or two), watched live streaming events from respected Christian leaders and musicians, but something was still missing. I could not get motivated to do anything aside from the basic things to keep the house running, my husband and pets fed, putting in my hours for work, and staying connected to the church through Zoom worship services and prayer meetings. And then all those people posting on Facebook about the projects they were doing - from home repairs and renovation, to learning to do something new (language, playing an instrument), crafting, baking, cleaning everything, etc. And I was getting more and more - I wasn't sure - out of sync, depressed maybe? That plus the fact, that here I was, getting discouraged when I was supposed to be the one encouraging others, as part of my ministry.

I virtually attended several live stream events put on by Dr. Terry Wardle at Healing Care Ministries. He felt led to address the things that people were feeling during “quarantine” and I was greatly encouraged by his ministry. The first one in late March really spoke to my soul. It was loosely titled, “Trusting God in Difficult Times - Learning to Take Our Faith for a Walk.” Due to copyright issues, I cannot delve much deeper into his insightful gleanings that he shared with the registered participants, but he said something that I had been mulling over throughout my stay-at-home period. And I fully intended to write this blog post about what he said and how it applies to our/my prayer life. (That may come in a later post.)

Desperation is the soil that most nurtures [fervent] prayer.”

Well, I was desperate, but I wasn’t feeling that it was nurturing anything, least of all my prayer life.

As I stated above, I thought I was doing the things that should position me to hear from God. I was getting little tidbits that were inspiring, but they didn’t last long. Then there were three things within the last month or so that seemed to turn things around for me. One was from the guest speaker at the online Memorial Holiness Camp; he gave a series of talks around the topic of “Together,” being together with God. He spoke about the incident between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, where Jethro told him that it wasn’t good that he was doing all this work, when he was called to be with God. So Moses recruited others to help him with the work of helping judge the disputes of the people, and Moses went up the mountain to be with God. Well, I was trying to be with God and, to me, the mountain was a sheer cliff with no way to get to the top.

Secondly, I heard a Facebook video posted by a well-known Christian comedienne. It seemed that she was also struggling through this time of isolation, and she shared about a picture that she had seen, a painting depicting the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ robe in order to be healed. She stated that she just wanted to get close enough to touch Jesus. Yes, that was what I was feeling also.

Then I listened to a fitness instructor, of all people, who had me bawling by the end of her workshop presentation on creating healthy routines. Somehow I realized how much I depended upon routines, and I had been out of routine, plus I was doing some things that were preventing me from taking care of myself.

So all of these things nourished something within me that finally got me motivated and “out of myself.”

With both my husband and I getting back to our workplaces - getting back to a sense of normalcy and routine, it seemed that whatever it was that was hovering over us suddenly lifted. I’ve started implementing a new routine that includes not only physical, but spiritual disciplines, from which I’ve seen some improvement in my emotional and mental health, as well. I do have to say that I’m still not sure what God has been and is still trying to teach me through all of this, but I am thankful for His faithfulness to me.

While this post started out to be something that I hoped would be inspiring and encouraging to others, it turned out to be more of a confession on my part. And you know what they say about that…

Addendum (8/21/20):

I meant to add this scripture to this blog:

Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

3 He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the Lord.


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