You Call That Worship?

He carefully arranged the carrots next to the plump beets and stepped back.

There. Looked great! The colors complemented each other and the size of each vegetable had already turned heads. No one could coax produce from the soil quite like him. He was a master gardener, no doubt about that.

He smirked at the pitiful, bloody altar across the yard where his brother was busily hacking up that poor dead lamb. How disgusting! Surely civilization had progressed beyond his parents' early days, hadn't it? Such messy offerings weren't needed anymore.

He'd never really understood this God his father and brother knew, but maybe today he'd get on His good side. This time he'd brought the better offering. This ought to Wow! Yahweh. Granted, this tasteful array wasn't exactly within the stated requirements, but that's how progress was made, wasn't it? Maybe Yahweh would see that they could compromise on some things, shake it up a bit. Maybe this time the Mysterious One would see the wisdom in a Cain's offering.
The days of physical sacrifices are past, thanks to the Ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. Yet how many times do we bring a Cain's offering in place of real worship?

What we call "worship services" in many churches across the world are nothing more than fleshly attempts to give God what WE want to give him, not what He requires.

We clock in between 9 and 11 Sunday morning,

  • sit down,
  • read the worship guide,
  • chit-chat with a few friends,
  • stand up,
  • sing what we're told to sing,
  • listen with one ear unless it's a feel-good message and then we nod right along with the preacher.
  • If we're really pious, we actually plunk our dutiful tithe into the bucket and try not to think about what else that money could purchase.

Then it's out the door and back to REAL life, where we're the boss. Decisions are ours alone. Life choices are made with scarcely a nod in God's direction. The thought of worship never enters our minds again until next Sunday morning at approximately 10:48 am.

Do we really believe God is fooled? We shake our heads at the foolishness of Cain's plan, yet the average Christian in America is doing exactly the same thing. Every day.

We've bought into the Satanic idea that we can offer God what WE like, what WE choose to give him, and that will suffice. We think we we can offer him a part of our hearts, a part of our lives, a chair in the corner, and He will be tickled with it, like tossing a rattle to a baby to keep him occupied while we go on about our business.

We are fools.

Christian attempts at worship vary from from hysterical emotionalism to rigid formality and God wants none of it. "The true worshiper must worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He seeks such worshipers as this." (John 4:24)

True worship does not start or end according to the clock or the calendar. True worship is a way of life. Both spirit and truth must be fully engaged or it is not worship, it is only noise. If your spirit is not placed on that altar before God, if your mind is not being daily renewed with His truth, then what you are doing is not worship. It is a Cain's offering, a formality that does nothing to touch the heart of God.

Before you lift a brow at Cain, examine what you call worship. Cain offered to God his opinion rather than his life. Are you doing the same thing?


The Current Holocaust

It's ugly. 
It makes us uncomfortable. 
We recoil.
And turn away.

Imagine Jesus walking that last road to Calvary. Beaten, bloody, filthy with the mockery of human sin. He was ugly. He made people uncomfortable. Would we have recoiled and turned away? 


But as His followers, we are called to dive into that ugliness, just as he did. He did not save us so that we could cruise with ease into eternity. He saved us to be salt and light in a dying world.

 Proverbs 24:11 says, "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter."

We read that and we want to turn away. We mistake our feelings of sympathy for Christian response.  We tell ourselves that our distaste for such evil is enough.

God anticipated that, so he added verse 12: "If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?"

I can't turn away anymore, and I hope you will join me in stepping up. Take a minute to watch this short video and then ask God what He would have you do. 

"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke 


You're Just Too Talented!

Gideon was just a regular guy, doing regular-guy things, when the LORD appeared to him and told him that he would be the one to bring victory to his people over their oppressors, the Midianites.

Now it would be one thing to lead a mighty army of thousands, but God made the helpful move of whacking the army down to a handful.

I love the way the Lord explains it: "If I give you the victory in battle with all these men, you'll think you did it. I want you to know that I did it."

Legion by legion was eliminated until there were only 300 men left to fight the nation's biggest bullies. Gideon's expression probably looked something like this:


Has that ever happened to you? You've given everything over to God, ready to do his will, eager to serve...and then he starts whacking away at your strengths.

"There's still too much of you," he says. "You'll have to step aside so I can work through you."

"But...but...that's my best talent! That's my favorite gift! I'm really good at that and I was gonna do it for you!"

He shakes his head. "No. I don't want your best efforts. I want your weakness, your inadequacies, your failures. If you do it, we'll only get human-sized results. Whereas, if you want My blessing on it..."

And you have a decision to make.

You can "give it all you got," and get your best results.


You can give Him all you got and get the results God planned.

Human-sized results or God-sized results?

His are always better. Just ask Gideon.


Your ship has come in!

You can hardly believe it, but there it is. The prepaid tickets are in your hand, your name printed boldly across the top. You've been given a condo on the beach in Maui, free airfare, and a lifetime salary for just showing up! The condo comes with a maid and all bills paid. You'll have time to pursue your dreams and goals--whatever you want to do. It's all yours.

You call a few friends and gloat over your news. For the next few weeks you're the talk of the town as you dream and plan and imagine a life beyond anything you've experienced.

A year later, you're still sitting on your couch, tickets clutched in one hand, remote control in the other. The print has faded a bit from all the folding and passing around you did last year, but your name is still clear.

The phone rings.

"Hey..." It's your best friend. His voice is irritated. "Tell me one more time why you're answering your phone from your ratty old couch?"

You sigh and stare at the tickets. "I told you. I have a condo in Hawaii. A maid and everything."

"Yeah, right. So why aren't you there?"

You swallow and switch your gaze to the dusty window that looks out on an alley. "I'd have to leave here."
Just as it is impossible to live two places at once, it is also impossible to enter into the new life God offers without leaving the old one. Too many people are still clutching their tickets in their hands, boasting about going to heaven some day, but they've never left their old lives.

Jesus said if we would come after him, we must pick up our cross and follow him. We don't know the way to eternal life, but he does. He's been there before. If we don't follow him, we will never find it.

You have been offered an all-expense paid new life.

.Are you forfeiting it because you refuse to leave your dusty window?

How Do You Know It's God?

Picture a large herd of identical Angus cows and calves. In one corner of the field, all the baby calves lie in a group, left in the care of a single cow, while the mamas graze all over the pasture.

From across the pasture, one black cow lifts her head, sniffs the wind, looks over her back, and bawls toward the nursery.

Instantly, one little calf pops up, stretches, and bawls back before scampering across the pasture. He heard his mama's voice.

I always wondered: How do they know? All those cows look and sound alike. All the calves look identical, too. How does that cow know her calf's cry from all the others? How does that baby, only a few weeks old, recognize one cow's moo?

Sometimes I'm asked, "How do you know when it's God speaking to you? I hear a lot of voices in my head. How can you tell it's Him?"

The answer is in the pasture. That baby calf knows his mama's voice because of the relationship. He's spent every waking minute by the side of that mama cow. He's heard her low moo, knows the sound of her teeth tearing grass, loves the familiar scent of her hide and her milk. He's been nudged by her when he wasn't moving, licked by her when he was dirty, fed, cleaned and loved by her. So it's natural that when her voice calls out, he recognizes it.

The same is true in the spiritual world. Jesus told his followers, "My sheep hear my voice."

We learn to recognize God's voice by spending time in His presence.

Anyone can claim "God told me," but there are some truths we should all remember:

1. God's personal communication with a believing heart will NEVER contradict his written Word in Scripture.

2. God's voice is only heard by His sheep. He does call and convict unbelievers, but His personal instruction is for those He already calls his children. Without a relationship, there's no basis for communication.

3. Learning to hear God takes practice. "Be still and know that I am God." Hearing God requires a stillness of heart and a willingness to lay your heart bare before him, rather than the constant dictating of our desires that we erroneously call "prayer."

4. God's voice often comes through Scripture. So often as I've been praying about specific situations, a Scripture verse will pop into my head. I would never have thought to connect that particular verse with my situation, but there it is. God's answer.

Before you decide whether or not God is speaking to you, ask yourself:

  • Do I know for certain that I belong to God?

  • Do I know enough of His word to tell whether or not this idea could be from him?

  • Does this thought in any way contradict Scriptural principles?
God has a lot to say to those willing to listen.
Get your heart ready so you can hear it.

Your Maple is Showing

This Red Maple was a Christmas present from my hubby a few years ago. He knows how I love trees--not that we have much space left on 2 1/2 acres to plant anything, since I've been digging for the past two decades!

Isn't it beautiful? It was green all summer. Looked like any other leafy tree. Blended in, hardly noticeable. No indication at all that it would soon look like this when everything else was turning brown.

So why did it burst into color? Why didn't it just get dry and droopy like all the other trees?

I don't want the scientific answer. Our intellect and education often get in the way of our understanding. Jesus said we must become like little children before we can see the truth. So give me your kindergarten answer.

"It turned red because that's what was in it to do. It was made to turn red at just the right time. It can't help it. God put the red in there and it has to come out."

A five-minute glance at nature tells us that God loves color, beauty, and variety. Otherwise, everything would be shades of gray.

He created his people like that too. When we see a crowd of faces, we often see only a mass of humanity. But God sees the Red Maple inside each one, the unique beauty just below the surface, waiting for the right time to emerge.

During summer, this beautiful red color would go mostly unappreciated as it competed with flowers and blooming shrubs. But in the fall, splashed against deep jade pine trees, it becomes the star of the show.

Real beauty is often in the timing.

Does the world treat you like just another stick? Another boring oak tree in a forest of oaks?

God doesn't see you that way. He knows what He's put inside you and He knows the perfect season to bring it out. You have a Red Maple hiding inside you!

So continue to grow in the summer, rest in the winter, and don't try to force it. In the proper season, you will be the star of the show.