Worship: All or Nothing

This is my first time reading the New Testament through in The Message. And I have to admit, every day I’m blown away as I see things I’ve read many times differently. This day was no exception:

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee,
headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion.
The moment they saw Him they worshiped Him.
Some, though, held back,
not sure about worship,
about risking themselves totally.
Matthew 28:16-17 MSG – emphasis mine

A gasp escapes as I set the Bible on my lap. Unsure if I can read any further.

Held back…not sure about worship..
about risking themselves totally…

It’s as if these verses were written by one looking straight into my eyes.

Instinctively I reach for my treasured one. The Bible I’ve had since I was 16. For I needed to see why I’ve missed this.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted.

Ah, now I see what I look like when I don’t worship fully. When I hold a bit of myself back while praising Him…

Father, forgive me for this doubting heart of mine. Please take it. I give it to You. I don’t want it to hold me back from proclaiming You fully anymore. Because You are worth the risk. Jesus, You’ve done more for me than You will ever ask me to do for You. What a fool I would be to not give all of me to You. Every day. Yes, I’m all in. To You be all glory and honor…

I pick the Bible back up and read what was to follow. And smile wide when I see Jesus’ response:

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave His charge…”
(the Great Commission follows)

Curiosity got the better of me as I reached for my dictionary. Friends, have you ever looked up the definition for ‘undeterred’? Here are the words that jumped out to me:

Undeterred: unshakable faith.

This series of events happened after Christ’s crucifixion. After He had paid for my debt — my doubting heart — with His own life. And to think…He didn’t even regret it. Even after seeing how we still held back from Him, He remained undeterred in His goal of saving us.

Isn’t that just like our Redeemer? What grace…

Yes, this is what I will do this week. I’m not going to hold back. I’ll give my all for His glory. I’ll get out of His way and allow Him to work His wonder. With my hands held high. What have I got to lose?

Will you join me?

On this Music Monday, instead of focusing on one song, I want to focus on one thing: Worship. Friends, might I challenge you to worship Him fully this week? Don’t hold back.

Go ahead — risk yourself totally. For Him.
If not for the love of Him, then do it for His love of you.

I’m ready to begin worshiping fully. And seeing the gifts He has given me this week is a great way to start. May I share some things that filled my praise journal this week with you?

  • Nothing can separate me from His love. So I have nothing to fear.
  • My flowers are still alive! Even after all this heat and my not-so-green thumb…
  • Don’t need to pretend to be anything but a sinner saved by grace.
  • Corn on the cob
  • Only love empowers the leap in trust
  • Family game night saturated with laughter
  • Madeline L’Engle. Truly, I’m captivated.
  • Watermelon dripping from elbows
  • Another glimpse of grace while reading Matthew 28:16-17 MSG
  • God loves us even when we don’t want Him to love us…

How about you? How are you striving to worship Him fully? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking up with:
The Grace Cafe as well as:

 

What’s Not to Love

There I was, alone in the black of night. The fan across the room whirring around in a mesmerizing rhythm. A glimmer of light peeking through a crack in the blind, casting a single shadow on the wall next to me. I had turned the lights off. It seemed easier, not being able to actually see me this vulnerable, as I was taking my walls down one-by-one.

I breathe in deep and find myself exhaling to the rhythm of the fan. Slow, steady, quiet. Maybe with the next breath I will build up enough confidence to ask my one question. And finally it comes:

Father — Why do you love me?
What do you see in me?

It wasn’t until my lips curled around the real question that I realized it was more than one. But both needed to be asked for both were burning inside me, aching to know. And now I wait, still breathing in time with the fan. Doubt tries to find its way to me, following the glow of the street light. Ashamedness quickly follows.

Not tonight. The walls are staying down. This is something I must do. I must listen.

And I will never know if the voice I heard was my imagination or the real deal. It doesn’t even matter for in my heart, I know God found a way to speak to me. So softly I almost missed it at first. But the more I lingered on the moment, the more it became clear. Three questions He asked of me:

Why do you love Me?
What do you see in Me?
My child — why do you not love yourself?

Emotions come crashing down like a tidal wave. My breath taken out to sea. I instinctively reach out, trying to grasp at something. Anything. Where or where are my walls when I need them.

No. Not tonight. This is something I must do. I must think. I must answer Him. I have to know...

~~~~~~~~~~

I’m not sure how long I sat there that night. The years between then and now have softened my memory some. But I will never forget the way He gently guided me to answering the questions I should have been asking all along.

Friends, it was true. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t hate myself, either, but that’s not what He asked me.

And I wasn’t able to quickly answer why I loved my Redeemer. It seems like such an easy question to answer and yet, I couldn’t find the words. Truth was, I had never asked myself that question so point-blank before. Maybe if you were blessed to grow up in a Christian home like I was, you can admit the same thing. Even if you didn’t, maybe you can relate.

I found myself stammering for words. Excuses started pouring from my thoughts and I found myself uttering the rhetorical question that put me in checkmate.

“Well…what’s not to love?!?”

Silence followed. Long enough for me to realize I couldn’t hear the fan anymore. I sat up, more alert, trying to find my bearings once again. Then I heard it. Just one word. One word that answered every question posed that night.

Exactly.

~~~~~~~~~~

Even now, when I hear that one word, I often think of Him. I think of the one night that opened my eyes to the life I had been missing. The life of love only found in Him.

And even now it still amazes me that it’s there. Love like that. Freely offered to anyone willing to ask for it.

Oh how He loves us. 

I’ve grown much since that dark night of clarity. And I’ve spent every day since answering His three questions. Trying to grasp why I love Him so much. Counting the ways. Trying to fathom Him and all that He is. Attempting to truly see. Trying to accept that I can love myself, for He is a part of me. He is the reason I live and breathe. Without Him, that last question will go unanswered. For I have nothing worth loving apart from Him. And with Him, I have everything.

Yes. Exactly. What’s not to love.

How about you? Why do you love Him? Do you love yourself? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this post to:

He Sees Me

Hello friends! Thank you for your grace in me being absent a couple of days. I’m using the 5 Minute Friday challenge today to get back into the swing of things.

This week’s word challenge is:

VIVID

You know the drill by now. No editing. Just typing the thoughts that flow in these 5 minutes. Ready? I’m set. Let’s GO!

~~~~~~~~~~

He sees me. Better than I see myself sometimes and I wonder why he has chosen to love me. His eyes can pierce through any facade I have covered myself with this day, inviting me to peel back the layers and shine brilliantly. Encouraging me to  keep striving. Me — the one he sees so vividly. The one he has chosen to display God’s love and grace to on a daily basis.

And I love him more for it — this husband of mine. I force myself to not look away when I realize he can see me in all my colors as vivid as a Picasso masterpiece. For this is love. This is an example of God’s grace pouring down on me. To me. For me.

And I love him more for it — this husband of mine. He shows me but a glimpse of how my Jehovah sees me. The layers. The contrasts. The flaws I have tried to conceal. They all shine brilliantly in God’s eyes and yet He’s still here. My Savior doesn’t look away. He’s not ashamed of me. For He sees me, His child. He sees my potential, my purpose as vivid and crisp as a full moon spotlighted against the black of night. He sees me. And loves me anyway.

May I not look away. May I humbly accept God’s look of love. His glance of grace. May I accept His offer of forgiveness and not look away. For I want to truly see Him. As vivid as He sees me.

May I not look away.

TIME.

How about you? How do You see Him? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Do I Behold Him?

This is a continuation of my thoughts regarding  “Do I See Him?” and “Do I Know Him?

Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.”

My three-year old stops my Christmas story-telling to ask me question number seventeen:

“Mom, what does behold mean?”

In effort of not losing momentum, I say it means to look and then read the verse again using the synonym mentioned. And he was content. Until he had thought about it for a bit. Question #18 soon followed:

“But, Mom, why didn’t the angel just say to look?”

And this is example number 3,867 of how God uses my toddler to speak to me. To teach me a lesson. Why did the angel use the word behold? What is the significance?

And for the 12,842nd time, I click on my search engine to answer questions of a boy 30 years my junior.

be·hold  (Be`hold´): To perceive through use of the mental faculty; comprehend
To direct the eyes to, or fix them upon
To look upon, to gaze at
To see with attention (You have to be a good observer to see all the details)
To perceive through sight or apprehension
Give regard to, to hold into view

And I can’t help but wonder: Do I Behold Him? 

Do I regard Christ in my day-to-day? Are my eyes fixed on Jesus to the point where I don’t want to look away, but want to study Him. Personify His actions, portray His mannerisms. Linger on His every word. Do I behold Him?

I’m reminded of a post I read recently from the lovely Barbie @
My Freshly Brewed Life (read the post here).
She mentions her pastor sharing the message of

What you behold, you will become.” 

And I can’t help but wonder: Who am I becoming? 

My thoughts journey back to the shepherds, hearing what they need to behold. Of my child wanting to know what the angel was really asking them to do. And I realize, I was way off.

To behold doesn’t mean to look.

It means to never stop. To never lose sight. To hold your gaze so unwaveringly that you become what you are holding.

Yes, Lord, I hear You. I will strive to never let go. To never lose sight.

This Christmas season, I will behold Jesus.

And what a sight my Savior is…

How about you? How do you behold Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m linking this post up with:

Word Filled Wednesdays,

The Grace Cafe and

Do I See Him?

This is a continuation of my thoughts regarding a previous post: Do I Know Him?

What a beautiful fall day! An unexpected surprise in the middle of November and we are taking advantage of it. My son is busy playing in his sandbox, filtering for small pebbles as he talks to the squirrel in the tree next to him. I am sitting nearby, Bible in hand, reading crisp words in the refreshing breeze.

Autumn Blessings.

I’m in the Book of Acts — the Acts of the Apostles, completely riveted at how the apostles share their faith. Words like “burning enthusiasm, boldness, without hindrance” jump from the page and my life is starting to feel more lukewarm by the minute. The author, Luke, manages to change my thoughts as he recounts Paul’s trip to Athens. The Athenians considered themselves religious. They worshipped gods religiously, but their gods weren’t God at all. What they held dear turned out to be mere artwork made by simple human hands–trivial trinkets compared to what matters most: the One, true, living God.

I’m nearing the end of the passage when I read Acts 17 verse 29:

“Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.”

And there it is. Resting next to the verse, something I had written in the margin years ago:

What is my image of God?

I look up to see my son now chatting with a bluejay, asking the ornery bird if he’s getting ready for winter like his friend squirrel. And I wonder, do bluejays prepare like squirrels? Do I see them year round? Why do I not know this? I am mentally taking note that this will have to go into my search engine when my heart gently reminds me

This question in the margin deserves to be answered.

How do I, an offspring of God, made in His own image, a likeness of Him no matter how miniscule, see the Lord? One who is all-knowing, all-encompassing, all sovereign……One who Is. How do I picture Him?

I can think of more than 100 words to describe my King, but must admit I cannot wrap my brain around visualizing Him. Gold, silver, precious stone, none will do. Nothing can encapsulate Him. Nothing can resemble Him accurate enough to be worthy of worship. I have, after all, the imagination of a mere mortal.

But I can see Him.

In autumn, winter, spring and summer, I  see His handiwork manifested. Nature bursts with radiant splendor and sings His song of praise.

When my son takes time to enjoy all God’s creatures, I see my compassionate Creator.

When the miracle of life emerges in all its innocent glory, there He is.

When someone reaches out to help another in need, grace glimmers. A selfless act revealed and I see my magnanimous Savior.

Yes, I can see Him. I will worship the King of Kings, the Great I Am — the One I cannot fathom. For He is worthy. He is

Beyond my wildest imagination.

How about you? How do you see the Lord? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I am linking this up to:

Thought-Provoking Thursdays

  

Do I Know Him?

I’ve read this endearing passage hundreds of times. The act of grace willingly given to one so unworthy despite knowing her for who she was: The Promiscuous Woman of Samaria. I snuggle deeper into my bedroom chair as I begin to read it once more. Excitement starts to bubble within as I know how it ends…Grace abounds.

That’s when it hits me. Five simple words stop me from turning the page, from reading the conclusion. The words appear highlighted, larger than the rest, and that’s when I know; Jesus is no longer talking to the Samaritan Woman. He’s talking to me.

…we worship what we know. (John 4:22b)

I read it over and over. Just those words at first and then the entire paragraph. Repeatedly. Hoping to ease my unsettled heart.

We worship what we know.

Questions start flooding my mind. I find myself writing in the margin:

Do I Know Him?

Do I know Him and not just know of Him? Do I know Him enough to truly worship? Am I truly worshiping? Am I bowing down to the One I know?

Now I’m digging. Frantically flipping through my journal for something jotted down while reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. Ah, here it is:

“Every moment I live, I live bowed to something.
And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.”
(One Thousand Gifts pg 110)

Do I know Him enough to see Him every moment I live?

I go back to the Book of John, hoping to finish the Samaritan story while sorting through my thoughts. The woman is now revealing to her acquaintances that she’s met a man who truly knows everything about her (and still offers her grace). I smile and think to myself, “Yes, He knows you and loves you regardless. He knows you like He knows me. He knows me and yet He loves me.”

He loves me enough to know me. Not just of me. The real me. Oh, how I want to love Him like that. To know Him fully. To become completely familiar. For in that journey, of seeking Him continually and involving Him in my everyday, I will worship what I know. Thank You, Father, for speaking to me through Your Word.

Yes. I will worship what I know.

To God be the glory.

How about you? Do you know Him and not just of Him? How do you worship? How does He speak to you? I’d love to hear.

UPDATE: I wrote this post before I had even opened up my blog to the World Wide Web. My thoughts on this have resulted in a series of posts since. You May find the other few HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m linking this up to The Gypsy Mama’s “One Post”