By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
Well, it’s true, I am making a full confession. I used to worship me. I went to church and I went to youth group, but when it came down to giving worth to someone, it was all about me.
Now, I didn’t bow down in front of a mirror and chant my name; I didn’t offer sacrifices on a fire; and I did not write songs of my amazing accomplishments. If you had asked me who I worshiped, I would have said God.
However, most everything I did was for my own benefit. I studied hard to someday make lots of money so I could have cool things. I worked various jobs to make money so I could have cool things now. I played trumpet for accolades and a sense of accomplishment. I ate what I wanted, and watched what I wanted.
Did you notice, there’s a lot of “I” in that paragraph. Of all the pronouns out there, this is the only one that gets capitalized all the time. Why? You can read a lot more online about this, but the bottom line is that uppercase letters symbolize importance. I guess, I really am more important than you, them, or us.
Obviously, I eventually realized there is another who rightly deserves upper case letters. Interestingly, we not only capitalize God, but He and Him when referring to our Lord. In fact, you will sometimes see LORD in all caps in the Old Testament. This is to reflect a specific Hebrew name for God, YHWH, which warrants the upmost respect, so much so that the Jews would not speak this name aloud.
While capital letters are important and point us to what is most important, there is much more to worship.
Worship can be defined in different ways. It can mean…
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matt. 22:37-38)
At some point I hope you realized, as I did, that you only deserve a small case letter. You hopefully surrendered your life to Jesus, acknowledging your sinful, self-centered ways; believing in God’s grace and mercy, and confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that makes it easy to profess faith in Jesus yet live as though I am lord. Consider Paul’s words to the church in Rome.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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. (Rom. 12:1-2)
In view of God’s mercy, His incredible love and grace, we are to act. This causes us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices! So, stop crawling off the altar and conform to the world. Your body, your life, is not your own! You were bought at a price. The death of Christ covers your sin and makes you acceptable to God. It’s a free gift, yet to receive it means we gratefully offer our lives back to our Savior.
REFLECT ON THESE TWO QUESTIONS
When you stand in church and sing, who are you worshipping? What are you thinking about? The music? The sound guy? Lunch plans? What the people behind will think if you lift your hands? Or what the people in front of you will think if you sing with all your heart? It’s all a form of self-worship. Instead, put your attention on the words of the songs and ponder the nature and presence of God.
When you get up in the morning and as you go about your day, who are you worshipping? What are you thinking about? Pleasing your own desires or pleasing your Savior? Are you willing to sacrifice your wants and comfort to show love and grace to others?
Lord, forgive me for having worshipped me and sometimes still worshipping me. Forgive me for crawling off the altar to please my sinful nature. I know your great love has covered my sin, making temptation all the more appealing. Yet, sin is not what I want. Transform me by the renewing of my mind that I might know Your will and worship with all my heart on Sunday and every other day of the week.
By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
While we were in Jamaica, we were up in the hills, far from the beautiful resorts and more importantly, cellular service. I could get one bar, as I recall, but really didn’t want to pay the fees to call, text, or use data. We stayed busy enough that I did not miss the news much, and I figured Steph would let me know if anything significant with the family happened.
So, while I was connected, I was not as well connected as I’d like. I’m sure you’ve been there. Suddenly the video stops and that spinny thing just goes round and round on the screen. Or after a few minutes of not hearing a response on the phone, you realize you’ve been talking to no one.
Better connections matter!
They matter with phones, and they matter at church!
Be honest a moment, beyond your family, how well are you connected in the church? One bar, two, three, or four?
Scripture is full of calls for believers to love one another. Jesus’ words after he washed the disciples’ feet are some of the most potent…
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV11)
These loving connections are not just for the sake of God’s witness to the world, or the benefit of others, though this should be sufficient motivation for us; close connections are a blessing to you. David proclaimed…
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Ps. 133:1 NLT)
This is why we made a big deal of relationships in our Covenant Partner Vows. Read these slowly!
“I will connect deeply with Jesus’ followers, gather with believers regularly, accept the spiritual guidance of the church leadership, and walk in a spirit of Christian love seeking unity, purity and peace within this congregation.”
These commitments challenge us on the one hand to a very basic element of connecting, to show up to worship services. At the very least we need to be present on Sunday mornings. Yes, you can be a Christian and not attend, but you are essentially rejecting Jesus command to love your brothers and sisters.
These commitments also hit on some huge challenges. “Connecting deeply” means authentic, caring, honest, truth-telling relationships where we seek unity, purity, and peace. And when others, especially leaders, confront us or call us to change, we must humbly receive their words and seek to change.
Again consider my question, beyond your family, how well are you connected in the church? One bar, two, three, or four?
For those of you with three or four bars, it’s time to get out of your awesome huddle a bit more and walk with someone with one bar. Pray for God to help you identify Ms. Or Mr. One Bar and then give ‘em a call.
If you have one or two bars, now’s the time to be intentional. Don’t wait for Mrs. Four Bars to call. Step up and connect.
Not sure how to do it?
A. Call Pastor Doug and ask about finding or starting a small group.
B. Pray for God to open the door for you to connect with one other person. Then be courageous and make it happen.
C. Login to RightNow Media (www.altoreformedchurch.org/resources.html) and search “connect” or “relate.” I like John Maxwell’s videos even though they are dated. Let me know what you find helpful.
PRAY: Lord, help us build healthy, loving relationships with other believers. Help us listen carefully to others and admit when we are wrong. Help us be intentional about connecting with those with one bar. AMEN.
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