Click to read the essays:
"Heart of Worship" written by Janine Chen
2. "Here Am I, Send Me!" written by Mary Ann Nguyen

Here are some thoughts [mostly from members of a local church (Chinese Bible Church)]:

"Worship is when your spirit connects and engages with God's Spirit. You must actively pursue connecting with His Spirit." - Pastor Joe Rhodes (from New Hope Church )

"Strip down all you have of the world and make Him number one! Singing, praising, and praying just as you are. True worship comes from a humble heart." - Edmund Ie

"True worship [is] total communion with God, living in sync with Him. That sounds like something Mary Ann would say." - Natalie Wong

"Obeying God. Romans 12:1" - Ben Wu

"Experiencing God" - Candy Lam

"I think it needs to be worship from the soul..not just from your voice or for show." - Sally Yeh

"I think worship is more of a feeling that comes from within. It's an intense feeling of love and joy, and wanting to show Him how much that love is." - Cindy Cheung

"True worship never stops because a true worshiper knows that God is always present, always near, always good, always deserving of praise and honor." - Mary Ann Nguyen

"Ah romans 12:1 . . .with your spirit, all day long. (Is that the right verse?)" - Kuangkai Tai

"I guess true worship to me is where God is the main priority in our life and we just totally devote everything [to Him] and worship from the heart" - Bri Sha

"True worship will never be attained on earth. It's unfathomable. It's something we kid ourselves into thinking that we can actually do. It's like trying to explain that feeling you have inside; you can't. If I could explain it I would've attained it." - Gavin Ho

"True worship is appreciating and loving God for who He really is." - Victoria Lowe

"Worship is not a feeling; worship is our heartfelt response to God out of obedience to our call in life - which is to bring glory and honor to His name." - Samantha Chang

"Worship is your response to a true encounter with God." - Daniel Lowe

"True worship is the unconditional giving of praise and devotion to God through one's entire life." - Pastor Luke Chen

"Living each day knowing that I'm not quite worthy to live; living each day . . .knowing that in everything I do, I'm trying to glorify Him and give Him my best - that is my act of worship" - Pamela Wan

"They (Christians) insisted that worship of God . . . was insufficient if that worship did not come from the heart and include love and compassion for others" (Honors Humanities 129).

"They envisioned God as a God of all people and insisted on the connection between worship of God and just living" (Honors Humanities 192).

"The Heart of Worship"

Written by Janine Chen
December 25, 1999

Before you even enter through the grand doors of the sanctuary, the sweet melodies of praise music awaken your senses. You hear the clapping of countless pairs of hands and voices lifted in unison. The worship team displays the greatest amount of talent ever heard. The bass is thumping, the drums are slamming, keys are flying, and that guitarist with that Taylor guitar... words fail. Your heart skips a beat.

What is worship? Is the above description worship? Looking at today's standards, this is the epitome of worship. I am not criticizing the previous illustration, but I believe that that act of worship should be a "side dish" of the worship of our lives. Many times it is quite the opposite. We show up on Sunday ready to praise God with our voices and music, but during the week we never stop to wonder what it means to worship from the heart. Searching for the true meaning of worship, I was directed toward Isaiah 6: 1-13 and Luke 5:1-11. Both of these scriptures share amazing similarities, even with hundreds of years separating them. Worship does not change. These passages demonstrate that true worship, the worship God intended us to give Him, comes from our hearts and is depicted through the living of our lives to glorify Jesus.

Worship does not need the people, the instruments, the words, the voices; it needs the heart. Worship does not focus on the people, the instruments, the words, the voices; it focuses on God. Worship is a time of entering into the Lord's presence. It does not matter who you are, what you are wearing, what kind of shadowy past you have, or what troubles plague you now. The focus is on God; you come just as you are, bringing a heart that seeks God. When you start to truly seek God with all your heart, your life begins to change. This is because you are able to see God in all His glory and majesty:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And the were calling to one another:

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke" (Isaiah 6:1-4).

Our finite minds can not even begin to fully comprehend the holiness of our Lord. We can not truly picture what Isaiah saw. It is amazing! Our God is sovereign and almighty, deserving of all our praise. Jesus proved that he is worthy of our praise when he first called the disciples to come and follow him. Simon Peter and the other fishermen fished all night long without catching any fish. Jesus commanded Peter to let down the nets and Peter willingly obeyed: "When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink" (Luke 5:6-7). What a sight it must have been to watch Jesus perform miracles such as the one described above. All of the miracles that Jesus preformed were a testimony to his magnificence. True worship starts when our hearts are focused on God, revealing His eminent glory and holiness. At this time, we realize that He is worthy of all the worship and praise we have to give Him. This can not happen until we open the eyes of our hearts and see Him in all His glory.

When one comes into contact with something so pure and holy as Jesus, he realizes that he is dirty and sinful. It is much like a newborn baby's skin, amazingly soft and smooth. I never noticed how rough my skin was until I met my baby sister, Jessica. It is inconceivable until you encounter a baby. The same goes for encountering God. Even a good person by the world's standards will come up short when compared to God. When your eyes are opened to the sin inside, you become humble: "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty'"(Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah is aghast! He sees with new eyes and realizes how unworthy he is to be in the presence of God. He cowers in fear and awe. Peter exhibits the same reaction when he experiences the greatness of Jesus: "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!' For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken" (Luke 5:8-9). Peter and the others were awestruck, and in a sense left speechless. Peter immediately deduced that he was a sinful man in the presence of the Savior. He could only voice his understanding that he was not worthy of Jesus' presence. In the act of true worship, you can not come before God and not be humbled. It is the realization that "we are not worthy of worshiping Him, yet He is worthy of all our worship"(Pam Wan).

Picture a child of God kneeling at His feet in humble prayer. From his eyes, tears fall down his face. He has realized that he is undeserving of the Lord's sacrifice, and the full impact of the Lord's grace floors him. The Lord, glowing in all His purity and holiness, looks down on His child. Smiling benevolently with love in His eyes, He asks, "Why are you weeping? Everything is going to be okay." No matter how sinful you are God is always there and willing to immediately forgive and forget your transgressions once you confess them to him: "Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for'" (Isaiah 6:6-7). Jesus has taken our place and died for our sins. Through Him we are cleansed and pardoned for our iniquities. He sacrificed His life so that we could live a new life: "Then Jesus said to Simon, 'Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men'" (Luke 5:10b). Jesus assured Simon Peter that he no longer needed to be ashamed or fear that he was not worthy of coming before the Lord. Jesus forgave his sins and now commanded him to live a new life in the will of God. It is He that allows us to dry our tears of shame, lift our heads, and look up into the eyes of our Heavenly Father with awe, love, and gratitude.

Jesus paid the price. He gave you the chance for a new beginning and fresh start. What do you do now? When someone gives you an amazing gift, do you carelessly toss it aside and mumble a reluctant "thank you"? Of course not! You give him the biggest bear hug imaginable, spurting out words of praise and thanks. You offering to do anything in your power to pay him back because you realize that you owe an incredible debt to him. With Jesus, we owe Him our lives because he has set us free. Our act of worship is striving to obey Him: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" (Isaiah 6:8) Isaiah tosses everything else in his life aside because compared to God, they are worthless. He immediately gives up his life for the sake of the call. Without hesitation, he readily puts his life in God's hands. Allowing Him to mold Isaiah into the servant that He wants him to be. Worship is the willingness to continue to strive to glorify Jesus in all that we do. Worship is our response to experiencing God. When God calls us to follow Him, He gives us a new path to pursue in life. With Peter and the other disciples, he called them to be fishers of men: "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:11). Without any hesitation or doubts, we must choose to follow Him, worshiping Him with our lives. That is what worship is really all about. In response to the incredible gift God has given us, we offer up ourselves as living sacrifices.

When one encounters God, how can he not be left speechless? Our God truly is an awesome God. What I know about Him amazes me, but what floors me even more is that I can not truly fathom all of who He is. It's just too much of my finite mind to contain. Yet I will continue to praise Him for who He is and what He has done to transform my life. As my spiritual act of worship, I will continue to strive to live for His glory. In this way, others will look at me and know that I'm different, I'm living for a greater purpose and that is to worship Jesus through my life. I know that I am bound to mess up and continue to make mistakes, but I also know that God looks at the heart. I pray that I aspire to worship Him throughout my entire life, living for Him and Him alone.

More thoughts on worship...

"Here Am I, Send Me!"

Written by His Lil' Ladybug
October 4, 1999

Disclaimer: The subject of worship is soo great that I could write pages! But I will try to be brief. Here is a very detailed outline of my thoughts. I have three major points, which I will summarize at the end. I know that you will look up the following cited verses and study them...because my explanation of the verses are not sufficient. They are not meant to be. :)

There is a very basic pattern to true worship that occurs both in Isaiah 6 and Luke 5:1-11. These are the best examples that I have discovered of worship (though there are many in the Bible). #1 Both Isaiah and Peter see a vision of God in all His glory and Holiness. When you encounter the living God, you see His holiness... and then subsequently, your own UNholiness is exposed. The contrast is so great, it is basically terrifying. You are blemished! You are sinful! You are dirty! You don't deserve to be in the sight of Someone so pure! So #2 occurs, you fall down, knowing that you need to be forgivnen & knowing you need to be purified. Peter fell at Jesus' feet and tells Him to go away because he's a sinful man (Is 6:8), and Isaiah says "Woe to me! I am ruined." (Lk 5:5) Then #3, God reaches out His hand of mercy and forgives/purifies. Is 6:6/Luke 5:10. #4. Then comes the commission. Is 6:8a/Luke 5:10 #5 Then comes the response. (Is 6:8b) "Here am I. Send me!" and "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (Lk :11) Which part is worship, do you think? I'll let you decide.

The above, however, is only the beginning of worship. When you encounter God in all His glory and you see your sinfulness, the contrast is soo great... the feeling is so humbling... the Truth that He has forgiven you despite you being "you" is so tremendously overwhelming, it causes you at that moment to fall to your knees. It causes you to respond by saying "yes!" to His commission. However, you don't ever walk away saying "That was a nice EXPERIENCE" and go on with your life in the same old way you always have. When you have encountered the true living God, you are changed. In fact, if Christ hasn't turned your world upside down, then something is wrong! When you walk away, every single part of your heart, mind and soul will forever remember the encounter. God leaves quite an imprint! You will never be the same again! And that's when Romans 12 comes in. You must offer your body up as a living sacrifice and that is your spiritual act of worship. Worship is every minute, every moment.... every action, every speech, every thought. You must read Romans 12 in its entirety. Paul begins by giving you the reason for offering your body as a living sacrifice (in view of Romans 12:1 and 11:33-36), makes the doctrinal command and then sets forth in explaining very clearly how to practically apply such doctrine in your life. True worship does not stop, because a true worshiper knows that God is always present, always near, always good and always deserving of praise and honor.

Jesus tells us that we must worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). What does that mean? This is what Pastor Greg Laurie says, "It simply means that we are to worship rightly with both our mind and our heart. You worship in truth when you worship the one true God and when you know who you're worshiping and why. When we worship in truth, we are agreeing with God about who He is, what He can do and has done, and what He is asking of us. Then we respond by telling Him so. 'Yes, Lord, You are very great. Yes, God, You are awesome, and I love you. I praise You and honor You for who You are and what You have done. I lift up Your name right now!' This is why Bible study and worship go hand in hand and are both crucial to the church. Worship is going to be more effective when it is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. So as we learn more about His nature, His character, His plans, and His purposes, then our worship is in truth - a repsonse to what we know is true about God." [from "The Upside Down Church," p.199]

Which brings me to my last point. You cannot really worship God in Truth if you don't really know Him. Have you ever stood in service singing and it suddenly hit you that you didn't know what you were singing? It happens to me sometimes. At those moments, I am NOT worshiping in truth because it is usually when my relationship with Him is not so hot or maybe I just don't really know (not "intellectually" but "personally") the particular character that is being sung. Public worship must be an outward expression of private encounters with God. Praises must flow from heartfelt joy that you know of because you have a free-flowing communion with Him throughout the week.

My example of this comes from John 1:44-51. (This is another great example of worship!) As Nathanael approaches Jesus for the first time, Jesus makes a character judgment of him. "Here is an Israelite in whom there is nothing false," He says. Nathanael is perplexed. How would this man, Jesus, know anything about him? So he asks, "How do you know me?" (Apparently, Jesus' assessment was correct -- which is even more shocking. Wouldn't you be shocked if a "stranger" knew what you were like?) "Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.' " Nathanael's heart declaration is a proclamation that I would deem as worship - very pure, true worship. The question that must be proposed is, why would Jesus' saying that He saw Nathanael under the fig tree cause him to make such a confession of Jesus' being the Son of God? The answer lies in the question "What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree?" What do you think? Was he, perhaps, praying and reading the Scriptures? Because if he was, then Jesus was right there with him... and that is why He knew... and that is why He knew that Nathanael was a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false. (It turns out that historically, fig trees provided great shade during those days, and it was a common place for study and prayer in hot weather.)

But how would Jesus know that, Nathanael must wonder. Ah! He would only know what he was doing and only know his character if He were God! Yes, yes... Jesus is God! So Nathanael was able to confidently make that declaration of worship.

And now think of it in another way. If He hadn't spent time under the fig tree meditating on the Scriptures, then He may have had an encounter with Jesus, but he wouldn't know that Jesus is the King. Victoria and my speculation is that if he wasn't such a student of the Bible, then He wouldn't have been able to recognize what the Messiah, whom he was waiting for, was like. But since he had been meditating the Scriptures, he needed only one encounter with Jesus to know that He was face to face with the Messiah.

My point... just that true worship can only come out of time in the Word... under the "fig tree." :)

In summary, worship must come out of an encounter with the true living God: an encounter with His holiness and a confession of our unholiness which changes us. Worship must be a continual, unceasing life thing. Public worship must be an outward expression of a private relationship with God.

Although uneloquent and in lack, may these not just be words, words, words... but may they take root in your heart so that you may worship in spirit and in truth.

In His love,
Mary Ann

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Created December 28, 1999
Last modified: August 29, 2000
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Copyright Mary Ann Nguyen