Does the Snowfall Lead to Worship?

snowfallIn our beloved Heartland this morning the snow is blowing with blizzard. How do you respond? At least this storm is only supposed to produce a light dusting. If 1 flake to sticks to the roads, you know just what will happen–everyone in this area is required to report to the local grocery store to stock up! After the grocery binge, we will meet the salt trucks on our way to pick up the kids because the schools dismissed early.

How do you view the snow? Beautiful or troublesome? Sure, the snow can lead to shoveling the drive and digging out the cars. But, I still confess to having a kid-like excitement at the wonder of a robust snowfall. Beyond the grocery, lost sidewalks, and closed schools, I hope you still see the glory in it all.  We were built to respond to the beauty of a heavenly downpour.

So, just how does the snowfall lead to worship?

See the Snowfall and Worship the Sender

God both creates and sends the snow. The last prediction of snow for our area was a mere “dusting” which amounted a full 5 inches!  While this accumulation surprised the forecasters, it did not catch God off-guard.

God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend. “For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ “He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work. Job 37:5-7

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, Which I have reserved for the time of distress, For the day of war and battle?  Job 38:22-23

He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. 17 He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold?  Psalm 147:15-17

See the Snowfall and Worship the Provider

God promises that He accomplishes His own will in the snowfall. Then, He uses this picture to remind us of the glory, power, and beauty of His Word.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

See the Snowfall and Worship the Forgiver

God uses the purity of new-fallen snow to paint of picture of the cleansing of forgiveness.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

So, see the snow. Pause for a moment and watch it blowing through the trees or dancing on the driveway. Be reminded of God and His majesty. See the snow.  See the snow with new eyes. See the snow and allow your child-like wonder to lead to worship.

Daryl Pepper, Associate Pastor

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Show and Tell Worship

show and tell 2The other day I was out running some errands with Hadley, my 4-year-old daughter. As we were walking through the store Hadley noticed someone wearing a University of Louisville sweatshirt and shouted out, “Dad, look! The dirty birds! We don’t like them.” In that moment I was both embarrassed and extremely proud.

It is amazing how quickly our kids pick up on what we are passionate about. I haven’t had to sit down and teach Hadley about my love for the Wildcats. I haven’t had to set aside times each week for lessons on the Wildcats. As she has witnessed me cheering on the Cats, she has quickly picked up on my love and passion for UK basketball. For four years, I have been modeling–just like the children’s game Show & Tell–what it looks like to be a part of the Big Blue Nation.

Our kids are quick to pick up on our passions. Do they witness us getting passionate about our relationship with Jesus? Do our children witness us worshiping the God we know and love?

King David was the man after God’s own heart. Most of our psalms were written by this king of Israel, this king who, without a doubt, worshiped the Lord. There’s this really cool exchange in 1 Chronicles 28 between David and his son Solomon. We know from this passage that David was nearing the end of his life, so he gathered a great assembly.  He had a charge to give to them; and then, before he is finished, he gives this charge to Solomon in front of the entire congregation:  “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9)

In front of everyone, David says, “Solomon, know my God. As I have known him, know him.” I started thinking about the relationship between David and Solomon. I wonder if Solomon as a child ever witnessed or ever saw his dad, the king, worship? Did Solomon ever witness his father, in the assembly, praise the God he knew, loved, worshiped, and about whom he wrote multiple songs? I guarantee you he did. I guarantee you Solomon witnessed his father, the king, worship God.  Worship by Show & Tell.

In 2 Samuel 6, David is returning the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David. It was a great moment for the nation of Israel. At one particular instance, the caravan stops to praise and worship God. Then it says, “David danced with all of his might” (v. 14). In an act of worship, we see David, the King of Israel, dancing with all of his might. Worship by Show & Tell.

Now my Dad, I’ve never seen him dance, but when I think about him dancing, it’s not really a pretty sight. But when I add the word danced mightily, it gets even worse. David didn’t care. David knew God. He loved God, and he didn’t care who saw. He didn’t care who was around. He worshiped, and worshiped through dancing. He danced mightily before the Lord.

When David gets home, his wife Michal sees him coming into the city. Literally, it says he was dancing and prancing. His wife sees this activity and is embarrassed: “You are the king of Israel. What are you doing making a fool out of yourself dancing like that?” (v. 20). Listen to David’s response. I love it: And David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord––and I will celebrate before the Lord‘” (v. 20). Basically he’s saying, “I wasn’t dancing for you. I wasn’t dancing for anybody else. I was dancing for the Lord, and I don’t care what you think about it.”

Then he goes on to say, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes (v. 21). In other words he’s saying, “You think what you saw was embarrassing? You think that was bad? I will become even more undignified than that, because it’s before the Lord. I know him, I will worship him and I don’t care who sees it.”

This act of worship happened before Solomon’s birth. He wasn’t there. He didn’t see it. But I guarantee he heard about this story. I guarantee Solomon saw his dad worship the Lord with passion.

When David charged Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28 to know God, he was telling Solomon to do something that he had been modeling for Solomon’s entire life.

Worship by Show & Tell. We need to model for our kids what it looks like to worship the God we know and love. “Do as I say not as I do” just doesn’t work here. It is not enough to just tell our kids, we need to Worship by Show & Tell. Our kids need to witness us worshiping the Lord with passion. One of the things we love about Grace Heartland Church is that multiple services allow us to serve or to attend an Adult Bible Fellowship Class while our children get a lesson in our Merge Children’s Ministry.  Then, we still have the opportunity to worship together as a family. It is important that our kids see us worship. Our kids will witness us getting passionate about many things. Will they witness us worship the Lord? Let us model for our children what it looks like to worship the Lord and may this move beyond just a Sunday morning experience to a lifestyle of worship.  Worship by Show & Tell.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister, Grace Heartland Church

God and Hawaii: neither should be missed

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Isunsetmagine that you won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. That’s a nice little daydream isn’t it!? Suppose that it was dark when you landed, so you took a cab to the hotel and crashed straight to sleep after your epic flight. The next morning you awoke and opened up the drapes to reveal a view of the road, as your side of the hotel didn’t face the beach; you had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then spent much of the morning and afternoon camped out at the hotel pool in the courtyard. At night you took a cab to a restaurant for dinner, but as the Sun had already set, you never saw much of anything. This pattern repeated itself all week long, until you flew back home and rejoined your family, friends, co-workers.

Happy to have you back, one after another they peppered you with questions like, “How was the beach?” “How was the ocean?” “Did you see dolphins?” “Were the sunsets amazing or what?” “How were the mountains?” “Did you like the lava fields?”

And one by one you had to explain that you spent most of your time in the hotel, at the pool, in the spa, and out to dinner. At one point you finally realized that you had been IN HAWAII but you totally missed experiencing Hawaii! You might as well have been in Muldraugh . . . (sorry Muldraugh, I had to)

This dumb little imagination brings to life something that actually happens to us on a recurring basis – that is, we go to meet with God and totally miss God. Really.

Please don’t miss God on a Sunday morning. Really.

Don’t gather to experience him, and then come home after only singing some songs or hearing some words spoken. Really.

On Sundays we gather together for a special time designed to help us hear him, talk to him, and worship him, but we have got to be willing participants.

Meeting God in a worship service is like going to Hawaii – it can be awe inspiring, majestic, even life-changing!! But we must arrive ready to meet God; to experience him. Worship isn’t a passive endeavor. The only thing worse than going to Hawaii and missing Hawaii is going to God’s house for worship and totally missing God.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. In the car, on the way, say, “God, please open my heart to you this morning.”
  2. Show up 10 minutes before your service begins; that’s 5 minutes to visit and 5 minutes to sit and get your heart ready.
  3. Dedicate the hour of worship service to whatever God wishes to do in you in that moment.
  4. Leave your phone alone unless you’re reading scripture or sermon notes on it (everything else can wait 60 minutes).
  5. Realize that worship can still be a rich encounter with the Lord even when you 1) don’t care for a particular song, 2) don’t like what a worship team member is wearing, 3) don’t agree with a sermon point, or 4) find out that the person in the row next to you is a) imperfect, b) a funny dresser, c) socially stand-offish or d) doing something you find annoying. Sometimes our experience of God is most rich when things around us are imperfect.
  6. Go to the GHC App a couple days early and read the scripture passage for Sunday; come with it already on your mind.
  7. Strive to worship throughout your week as you live your daily life – let Sundays be a special kind of worship because you’re gathered with brothers and sisters in Christ.
  8. Live a surrendered life. If disobedience rules during the week, how can Christ rule on Sunday morning? Die to self, live to Christ, and worship will take its rightful role in life.
  9. If you ever go to Hawaii – go to the beach. Swim with the dolphins. See the sun set over the ocean. Climb one of the mountains. Get a sunburn. In short, go ahead and experience what you came to experience. Don’t miss it!

Clark Hewitt, Associate Pastor

From Preaching To Praise

judgesToday we live in what is known as a post-modern culture, which is characterized by relativism.  Everything is relative.  What is true for me may not be true for you.  Everyone defines truth for himself or herself.  Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.  This kind of thinking really isn’t all that modern, though.

The book of Judges is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament.  Throughout the book we see this vicious cycle of the people sinning against God, being given over to their enemies as a result of their sin, crying out to God, being saved by God, and then the whole thing starts over: “again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”  The author of Judges sums up the situation at the end of the book saying, “In those days Israel did not have a king.  All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

How did things get so bad?  How did they let things get to this point?  “The people served the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and during the lifetimes of the elders who lived after Joshua and who had seen what great things the Lord had done for Israel . . . . After those people had died, their children grew up and did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel.  So they did what the Lord said was wrong” (Judges 2:7-11).

An entire generation grew up not knowing God or what He had done for them.  So, they did what the Lord said was wrong, what was right in their own eyes. The church is facing a similar dilemma today.  We may take an honest look at our culture and wonder how things got so bad.  Who or what is to blame when one generation fails to value what a previous generation did? Did the first generation fail to reach out or did the second generation harden their hearts. The truth is, it is probably a little bit of both.

A generation grew up who “did not know the Lord.” What’s happening here is not so much a lack of knowledge but a lack of belief. They knew about God but they did not know God. It is not ignorance but unbelief–a deliberate refusal to acknowledge the authority of God.

Discipling the next generation is about more than just getting right information into their heads; it’s about more than getting correct theology into their mind. Our desire is that they would know the Lord, not just know about him.

In Psalm 145:4 David writes, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” David could have said one generation teaches your works to another, but he doesn’t. He says commends or praise. There is more to discipleship than just conveying truth. We are to commend or praise the works of the Lord to the next generation.

There is a difference between what we teach our children and what we are passionate about in front of them. What do our kids see us getting passionate about? They see us getting passionate about a lot of different things – our hobbies, our favorite sports teams, our work. Do our kids see us get passionate about the Lord and knowing Him? Do they see us worship Him?  They need to. They need to see this worship happen. And it’s not just parents they need to see this worship from. From oldest to the the youngest generation, these little ones need to see the praise and adoration of the Lord.

So let’s not just preach the truth to our kids, let’s commend it to them. Let’s praise the works of the Lord to the next generation. May the next generation see us worshiping the Lord whom we know and love.  And may they grow up not just knowing about the Lord, but that they might actually know Him.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister

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A Fragrant Offering

Fragrant OfferingI remember the first time I raised my hands in worship. I remember thinking that I wanted to show God how much I desired Him. I also remember it being extremely awkward as a storm of anxiety raged within my mind. I wondered “what will my friends think if I do this?” It was certainly a sacrifice to do so. And I think it’s safe to say that all worship is a sacrifice that costs something. In the book of John we get a beautiful picture of sacrificial worship between Mary and Jesus.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3, NIV).

Mary, who experienced so much mercy and forgiveness in Jesus, brought something that was treasured and used it to show her affection toward Jesus. She took something that was most likely hard to give up, and broke it at Jesus’ feet to show that He is worth more. She even used her hair, which represented her beauty, to get messy as she wiped His feet. Jesus was her “One Thing”. He was the centerpiece of her life, the place where all of her affection, trust, and attention was placed.

This passage is here to show us worship that Christ desires. He desires worship that costs us something. How often is deficient worship brought in our gatherings? You see it when our attention is elsewhere and we keep checking the time. You see it when we don’t show up prepared or show up late. You see it when our pride and fear keep us from displaying humble, messy adoration. I believe it’s because we haven’t truly understood the depth of who Jesus is and what He has done for us on the cross. But when we truly contemplate and feel the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we can’t help but bring costly worship. And worship like this will release a fragrance that gets the attention of the watching world.

  • How have you brought deficient, unintentional worship?
  • How can you bring worship that costs you something, worship that proves Christ as the “One Thing” in your life?

Worship: Living Vertically

Welcome to 2015—the Year of Worship at Grace Heartland Church! What better way to start off a new year than with a blog? Every. Day. Worship. is just what it says—a way to help infuse worship into our everyday lives.

Our theme for 2015, “Worship: Living Vertically” flows from the understanding that God creates within us something beyond this life. He gives us a desire for eternity says the writer of Ecclesiastes. Some refer to this as our need for transcendence. We live in this realm of the physical world, but we long for something more. We innately know there is a God who is to be . . . worshiped.

As 2014 closes, news stories are filled with the “best of” and “worst of” lists. These stories read like a Who’s Who of celebrities from Hollywood, athletics, and fashion. These stars receive unimaginable worship from others—often leading to lives that implode into seclusion.

We were designed to worship. We need to worship. We find peace and contentment when we worship. When we seek to be the object of someone else’s worship, it ends in disaster.

Mankind is made to give worship, not to receive it. Sin began when Satan desired to be the object of worship rather than give worship to the Father. That pattern repeats itself in each of us as we seek to be the Lord of our own lives rather than submit to the Lordship of the King. Submission and recognition of Jesus as the King is the beginning of worship.

Every human being that walks the face of the earth deals with the subject of worship. The struggle with worship is its place in our lives. We either take the same path as Satan and seek to be the object of others’ worship, or we spend our lives seeking the person or thing that deserves our worship. Even if people do not recognize their struggle with worship, they demonstrate their innate desire to worship by what they give ultimate value to in life.

So what is the healthy response to the subject of worship? We look forward to mining the deep reserves of the subject of worship this year at Grace Heartland Church.

Worship: Living Vertically is the beginning and the life pursuit of seeking the presence of God. Worship is the practice of living everyday in His presence and in a way that honors that presence. Worship is not just about this life; it is the practice of heaven. Worship in this life is experiencing a glimpse of the complete transformation we will have when we are in the presence of the King for eternity!

There is a great deal to learn about worship and I look forward to our journey and to our discovery. Worship . . . living vertically.

A Marvelous Light!

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in the darkness. John 12:46

Charlie Hall wrote the worship song, “Marvelous Light” which was popular around 2009. One Sunday while singing that song I began to envision a distant light coming towards the earth, growing as it moved closer. But then I realized: “No, this is not it. God is much bigger than an advancing light from a great distance. The light of God’s presence is so immense, so powerful, and so marvelous, that it immediately dispels ALL darkness in its wake. Surely He is withholding His marvelous light from our presence because the universe is completely dark?”

I recall the horrible ice storm that hit in February 2009 and the many dark evenings we struggled to function with flashlights and candles. At first, these small beams were terribly insufficient since we were used to more powerful lights. As time went on, we became accustomed to the soft glow and we learned to appreciate these lesser lights. Then, the electricity came back on . . . WOW! Instead of small, directional rays that only lit the path of the beam, we now enjoyed a flood of light from all sides that dispelled all the darkness!

Then it struck me, this is the current state of things in the universe—the Sun in all its brilliance is only a flashlight. It is a directional beam that gives light to what is in its path. When compared to God, it is only a flashlight. When Christ returns . . . BOOM! The light of the universe will be switched on and ALL darkness will be gone! The universe will be illuminated by His presence. The darkness of the universe will cease to exist—it will be filled with the all-consuming light of Christ.

We don’t sing the song “Marvelous Light” much these days but I will never think about the concept of the marvelous light of Christ in the same way. I long for the day that the darkness is dispelled and the light of the world shines His Marvelous light into the dark expanse of the universe.

Until that day, our worship allows His glory to shine in the darkness. People are then drawn into the marvelous light of His grace so that no one should stay in the darkness.

Jeff Noel, Lead Pastor

From Ritual to Wine

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him (John 2:6-11)

Weddings Bells

Have you ever been to a really good wedding? If you have then it has probably left a mark on you. Likely your own wedding left a pretty good mark on you–hopefully in a good way. I have heard stories of people catching themselves on fire, while others locked their knees and passed out. These left a mark in a different way. Regardless of what happens, most weddings are redeemed by the joy that is shared between a bride and groom despite the rituals and blunders.

Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding, and it is quite an unusual one compared to the ones attributed to his ministry later, but just as joyous. Here he changes water into wine. For years I wondered what the significance of this passage could be. And I certainly think one of the important things about it is that it “revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (v. 11). It showed that he was God, that he radiated the power of God, and encouraged the disciples to believe in him as God. However, I believe there is a deeper symbolism that John was trying to show us. One that reveals who he is and how we can approach him in worship.

From Ritual to Wine

The first thing to notice is that Jesus made the wine from stone jars for “ceremonial washing.” You see, the religious leaders demanded that your hands be washed before meals and other social gatherings, but this was never commanded by the Lord. Yet the leaders treated it as such and heaped a burden that God never intended for his people to carry. In fact, the only time ritual washing is ever commanded by the Lord was for the Levites who were entering the presence of the Lord (Exodus 30:17-19). The cool thing about this is that Jesus takes this extra-biblical, legalistic teaching and makes wine out of it. Wine in Hebrew culture was always a symbol for joy. So when the harvest was abundant it meant that God had provided, and something tasty was going to be made from that provision (Psalm 4:7).

Jesus turns the water of these ritualistic stone jars into wine and dispels the false theology that you must earn your way, or clean yourself up enough to come into God’s presence. His blood covers us and makes us able. He takes our empty rituals that do no good in making us closer to God, and says “you don’t have to do this junk to earn my love. You have it!” Instead we are granted free access into a joyful celebration with Jesus. Jesus is our wine, Jesus is our joy, and we celebrate that like a wedding each time we gather.

  • In what ways has your worship been an empty ritual? Have you tried to earn your relationship with the Lord?
  • Remind yourself that the gift of salvation is free from the burden of your works. Take time to thank and praise God for his salvation that is a free gift.

Chris Adkins, Worship Pastor