Praise or Worship

All the earth worships you and sings praises to you… Psalm 66:4

We are commanded throughout scripture to praise God and to worship Him alone. The terms are similar, but not synonymous. Praise is easy. We praise people for a job well done: kids for good grades, a neighbor for mowing our lawn, or a spouse for taking out the trash. Praise doesn't cost us anything. It is a reward for performance. Through words, music, or dance, we can praise God for the great things He has done. Praising God is good, but we should not limit our heart’s expression to praise only.

Part of God’s mysterious nature is the requirement to worship Him alone. Worship is the losing of oneself in the adoration of someone or something greater. The human spirit is designed for worship, and if we are not worshiping the Lord, we will worship something else. Sports stadiums and rock concerts are filled with worshipers. Shopping malls and casinos pack in the worshipers every weekend. Worship is where we go to find validation and purpose. In order to worship God, we must set aside our pride and acknowledge His right to rule over us. Worship reminds us that we are not God. We can praise God for what He has done, but we worship God for Who He is. To experience true communion with Him, we need both.

Consider the differences between praise and worship. Are you practicing both in your communication with God?

Are You All In?


“… commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.” Deut. 6:6

High atop a rocky cliff, a diver stands ready, toes over the edge, arms held high. With eyes on the choppy ocean far below, he bends and then leaps. With arms outstretched, he soars away from the jagged rocks and toward the ocean. A photographer captures this moment and forever immortalizes the image of a man suspended between earth and sky. With the cliff behind him and the water below him, he is fully committed. There is no going back. There is no plan B.

That’s the picture God paints for us in this verse. Committing ourselves wholeheartedly to the lordship of Jesus Christ means we leave behind our disobedience, our agendas, and our rights to direct our own lives. With arms outstretched, we say to God, “I’m all yours. You’re all mine. There is no going back. There is no plan B.” God never offers the option of halfway devotion. That idea is as ludicrous as a cliff diver halfway leaping. It’s not possible. We don’t give Him a vote on our decisions; we hand them over to Him and follow His orders. Leaping into the arms of Christ can be as frightening as the thought of cliff diving, but that’s what God calls faith. Without it, we cannot please God, because He is wholeheartedly committed to us too (Hebrews 11:6).

Have you tried to pretend that God is pleased with halfway commitment? Maybe it’s time to make the leap.


Not a Chance


You saw me before I was born; every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16

An author is writing an action scene for his latest manuscript: “Dorothy leaped from the window and—“. Then he realizes he is thirsty, so he lays down the pen, goes to the kitchen, and gets a drink. He gazes out the window, puts away some dishes, and then returns to his work. Picking up the pen, he continues: “—landed in the bushes below.” Although an hour has passed since he began the sentence, there is no time lapse in the character’s world. When a reader reads this book, they will see no evidence of the gap, because the author exists outside the time and space of his created world.

God works with us like that. Because He exists outside the time and space of His created world, He can record every day of our lives in His book before we live one of them. He sees the end and the beginning simultaneously. Although He placed a free will within His human characters, God is sovereign over His creation. What we often call “chance” or “coincidence,” God calls purpose. Consider these passages that put seemingly random events in a different light: Isaiah 46:9-11; Proverbs 16:33; and Exodus 4:11. 

Because we are so limited by the parameters of space and time, we don’t always understand how it all fits together. But we can trust the God who sees the beginning, the middle, and the end simultaneously. He works out the events of our lives to accomplish His ultimate plan. We have His word on it.

 Because God is outside of space and time, He can attend to your needs as if you were His only child.


No Accidents

 Pre-born child at 16 weeks gestation.

You formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

When God made the first human being, He did something He had not done before. For six days, God had spoken everything into existence. But when He made a human being, God reached down and fashioned the man just the way He wanted him. He then breathed His own life into that man, and man became “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). He still does that. To be created “in the image of God” means that we each bear the fingerprints of our Creator, reflecting His glory in unique ways.

Every soul begins as the union of two cells, but this is no accidental meeting. There are no “accidental” children. God Himself knits each of us together in our mother’s wombs. He designed us just the way He wanted us for His purposes and His ultimate glory. Every embryo, fetus, and newborn child carries the fingerprints of God and is therefore worthy of respect. Just as we would not barge into a neighbor’s home and shatter their heirlooms, so we cannot barge into God’s workshop and shatter His priceless creations. We cannot make a human being; only God can. And He alone knows the purpose and destiny of each one.

What difference would it make in your world if you valued human life the way God does?