If Creation Worships God

If creation sings Your praises so will I

So Will I (A Hundred Million Times) by Hillsong is my inspiration today. Listen to the version by the UPPERROOM, featuring Abbie Simmons while you read the lyrics and view the photos of the wonders of God’s creation.

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time

With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born

In the vapor of Your breath the planets form

If the stars were made to worship so will I

I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made

Every burning star A signal fire of grace

If creation sings Your praises so will I

God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

Photo credit Deb Zehyer

And as You speak

A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath

Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I

I can see Your heart in everything You say

Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace

Photo credit Miriam Higgs

If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
So will

If the stars were made to worship so will I

If the mountains bow in reverence so will I

If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I

For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I

If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

Photo credit Paul Smith

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride

On a hill You created
The light of the world

Ritual, Spirit and Truth

Depositphotos Image ID: 23471738 Copyright: ChiccoDodiFC

I was raised Catholic. I say that often. Not that it is a bad thing. It’s just my experience. During my time in the Catholic church, through my childhood and early adulthood, I had no connection with God. I can’t lay the blame for that at the feet of the Catholic Church. That was just where I was.

When I became a Believer, when I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, my life changed. I also began to see the Catholic Church in a different light. I was never into the ritual and observance, which is a major component of the Catholic Church. Not that other denominations and religions don’t have central religious rituals. All religions have ritual observances and traditions.

Those ritual observances and traditions are not, in themselves, bad, but they can create a facade that hides emptiness, darkness and sin. They can create an appearance of piety with no spiritual reality behind them. They can be more superstitious than spiritual, like stroking a rabbits foot for good fortune. In these and other ways, ritual observances can become a substitute for relationship with God.

Continue reading “Ritual, Spirit and Truth”

Enter Into His Gates with Thanksgiving

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / lzf
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / lzf

Enter[1] His gates[2] with thanksgiving[3] and His courts with praise[4]. Give [5]thanks[6] to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting[7], and His faithfulness to all generations[8]. (Psalm 100:4-5)

Psalm 100 is short, just five verses. It is subtitled “A Psalm for Thanksgiving”. So, it is a perfect verse for celebrating Thanksgiving. There is a lot packed in to this short verse from a short Psalm.

When I read this, I picture a procession of musicians and worshippers entering in to the Temple, but a closer look at the Hebrew words used reveals a slightly different picture. The word for “gates” more specifically references the gates to a city that open to the public square where the elders traditionally gather and public hearings are held and business and legal transactions take place.

Cities in Israel were gated and walled. They were safe havens. They were the center of the community that was surrounded by villages and agricultural land. Cities were where the important transactions take place.

The verse is obviously figurative, inviting us to enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into God’s courts with praise. We are invited to enter into the “place” where God’s sits, as the elders of the City sat.

We are invited to into the “place” of God’s influence with thanksgiving and praise. The word for “thanksgiving” means , literally, a “thank-offering”. Offerings in the Old Testament suggest the presentation of a gift, a sacrifice, to God. Here the gift and sacrifice is the offer of thanksgiving to God.

The word for “praise” means, literally, “to cast, throw on target” (as in “hit the bullseye”). Figuratively, the two words suggest the acknowledgment of God for who He is, the Giver of Life, the provider of our souls. It includes the sense that, regardless of our circumstances, we know and acknowledge that God is sovereign and in control of the elements of our lives, and we gratefully recognize it.

Further, this thanksgiving and praise is an intentional act. Thanksgiving can be a spontaneous feeling, but the Psalmist here is encouraging an intentional, willful act of thanksgiving and praise to God, even if we do not “feel like it”. In this sense, it really is a sacrifice and an offering we are encouraged to give.

Ultimately, thanksgiving is not a physical act, but a willful act of the heart and of the inner being. This is how we are to enter into God’s sphere of influence. We do this purposefully with the heart, and, by doing so, are able to enter into relationship with God.

The emphasis and focus of the text is on the everlasting loving kindness and faithfulness of God. This is why we can be thankful! God is sovereign. His promises and love for us are everlasting. Our present circumstances and afflictions are “light and momentary” compared to the everlasting goodness God has in store for us.

Thankfulness, gratitude, is an appropriate response from us toward God because of who He is and because of who we are in relation to God. We enter into relationship with God by approaching Him the right way. Gratitude is the way to enter into relationship with God, entering through the “gates” into the “court” of His influence.

This connection with God that we access with gratitude is transformational. We are changed when enter into relationship with God.

Nothing brings this reality home to me more than the story of Martin Pistorius. Martin succumbed to a mystery illness when he was twelve and became trapped inside his own body. He lapsed into unconsciousness for two years. When he “woke” from that unconsciousness, he was unable to talk, unable to move, unable to communicate.

His family and the people who tended to him believed he was virtually brain dead. They kept him alive and sustained him, but they thought he would never recover. He attempted to beg, plead and scream at them, but he could not make a movement or a sound.

Though people were around him and tended to him, he was utterly alone with nothing but his own thoughts… and God. In his own words, he said, “Soon after I started to become aware, God came into my life…. As I became fully aware, the only certainty I could cling to when so much didn’t make sense was that God was with me…. The people around me didn’t know I existed, but God did. And I knew he existed.

In that lonely, isolated place, God developed a relationship with Martin as Martin engaged God in prayer and conversation:

Sometimes my prayers were answered. Sometimes they weren’t. But when I felt disappointed and powerless, my conversations with God taught me that gratitude could sustain me. When the smallest prayer was answered, I gave thanks to the Lord. Caught in perhaps the most extreme isolation a person can experience, I grew ever closer to God.

Gratitude is tremendously underrated. Martin learned gratitude in relationship with God, and it sustained him in the most horrendous circumstances one could imagine. Martin eventually regained his ability to move and communicate after many years in the prison of his own body, but gratitude sustained him through the hardest times.

How much more should we be grateful to God? The world chases happiness while overlooking the power of gratitude. Gratitude ushers us into God presence where God’s influence empowers our lives. On this Thanksgiving Day, let us enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His court with praise because He is sovereign and true, and our lives are secure in the knowledge of God.

The gate to God is in our own hearts. Is the gate open? We can enter into the court of God’s influence with a posture of gratitude and praise for God in our hearts.


[1] 935/bo’ – literally, come in, go in by stepping into a new opportunity or perceived benefit; (figuratively) enter into a new status or experience.

[2] 8179/shaʽar – a gate of a city, the center of social influence where open-court was held for the community. (Amos 5:10-15)  Justice was administered “at the gate.”  Here cases were heard by the elders.  They sat in the public square just inside the town gate.  See Gen 23:10, 18; Prov 24:7, 31:23. Gateways of Israelite cities were the ideal locations to hold public hearings, make legal transactions, and conduct business (Ruth 4:1; 1 Kings 22:10; 2 Kings 7:1).

[3] 8426/tôdâ (one of three types of peace offerings) – the praise-thank offering, acknowledging the Lord’s dealings are good, even in the most difficult tribulations.  This root means both praise and thanks, i.e. includes both ideas. Believers today still make spiritual “todah’s” by their sincere praise or thanks to God in every scene of life (cf. Heb. 13:15; 1 Thes. 5:17).

[4] 8416/tehillah meaning praise, song of praise

[5] Hiphel word tense/form indicates a kind second subject, a second layer of meaning, something beyond the bare action that is driving the action, a second layer of intentionality. .

[6] 3034/yāâ – properly, to cast, throw on-target (hit the “bull’s-eye”) – acknowledge as “spot on”; grateful recognition which includes thanksgiving, confession, or praise – being right on-target (cf. Neh. 12:46; P.s 6:6, 92:2, 119:62; Is. 12:4). No one word in the OT means “give thanks” (thanksgiving) per se (E. Jenni). Rather, this concept is blended with appropriate praise (thankful recognition, confession, cf. Ps 43:5). Believers offer this praise with thanksgiving when acknowledging all the Lord’s dealings are “right on,” without flaw (exactly “spot on”).

[7] This word is emphasized in the original text indicting the importance of focus on the word.

[8] This word is also emphasized in the original text.


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Finding Balance in Worship

Are our Sunday worship services more pagan than Christian? That was the claim of a recent article.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / grace1221
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / grace1221

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad[1] in his Maker; let the sons of Zion rejoice[2] in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult[3] in glory; let them sing for joy[4] on their beds. (Psalm 149:1-5)

I have been thinking about an article I read recently: Is Your Church Worship More Pagan Than Christian? by Todd Pruitt. He questions the popular Christian music and worship culture on the basis that it exalts music to a sacramental position and musicians to priestly status without biblical foundation for the emphasis. He claims it promotes feelings over doctrinal soundness and experience over preaching the Word of God. These are valid concerns.

I agree with Todd Pruitt on nearly every point, yet the article and the one that followed, (Is Your Worship Christian or Pagan? (7 Tests)), leave me scratching my head a bit. Let me explain. Continue reading “Finding Balance in Worship”

Sacrifice of Praise

We praise Him not because we feel like praising Him. We praise Him simply because we should.


Through[i] Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice[ii] of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15)

Through Him! Through Jesus, we offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. Jesus is the instrument of our praise; He is the reason that we can praise God at all! Continue reading “Sacrifice of Praise”