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Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost

                                               by Beth Ellis

Worship…that time in our church services when our favorite song is played and we can sing with all our heart.  When the singing time is finished we sit down and have that warm, fuzzy feeling and we say that we experienced a wonderful time of worship.  

As I’ve been thinking about this over the last few months on staff here at Antrim, God has been challenging this thought process.  When I moved to PA a little over 3 years ago the Lord began to direct my attention to the verses in Romans 12.  I know you are all familiar with the chapter so let me just share with you what God showed me.  He began to transform the way that I think but renewing my mind with His word.  He has been transforming my thoughts on what worship truly is and I’d like to share with you some of my findings.

As I began to ask the Lord to show me what He sees as true worship, His Word became alive and these passages jumped out at me. The Lord is speaking in Isaiah 29:13 “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”(NLT)  I was challenged to think about the ‘man-made rules’ that I have grown up with and what I have considered worship.  Could it be that God considers these acts as ‘nothing but’?  As I pondered this the Lord directed me to the New Testament where Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman.  I’ve read the story MANY times…but this time something new stood out!    The woman was informing Jesus of how she could not worship because she was not able to go to the ‘mountain’.  “Jesus replied, ‘Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.’” John 4:21 (NLT emphasis mine)   I was surprised to read those words…it will no longer matter!   Could it be that we are so worried about the details of how and where we worship that we have lost the purpose behind it!!! 

I believe worship is a special part of our relationship with God.   Exodus 34 tells us that God is jealous about his relationship with us.

I’ve heard many different speakers talk about relationships.  I remember hearing someone talk about the act of saying “I love you!”  We all know that this is an important part of any relationship, especially in marriage.  Let’s say you make a commitment on your wedding to say I love you every day.  So each day you get up and the first thing you say to your spouse is “I love you!”  And then you go throughout the rest of your day and you don’t even think about communicating that to them…because you already said it for that day.  It becomes something that you simply check off your To-Do list!  We all know that this is not the way things work and your spouse may enjoy hearing those words…but after a time the words become rote and begin to mean nothing…especially when they are not followed throughout the day with other meaningful words and actions.

I believe the same is true in our relationship with our God.   He asks us to worship Him but not just an act that we participate in every Sunday morning. 

Another story that draws my attention when studying worship is found in Matthew 26.  A woman approaches Jesus as He reclines with a group of men and anoints Him with expensive oil.  The general consensus of the men in the room is…how dare she interrupt our gathering…a woman among men, wasting expensive perfume that could have been used for ‘ministry’!   Jesus’ response was…she has it right…wherever the Good News is mentioned, this woman’s story will be told!  Wow…I want to be like her.  Yet when I really think about it…do I?  All the people around her discouraged her and said she was wrong. 

Could it be that what God desires in worship is very different than what we have made it?  Could it be that God asks us to be extravagant with our Worship?  Whether we are singing (any song, because the song choice ‘no longer matters’), serving in the nursery or Sunday school class or giving financially!  When you walk away have you left something costly at the altar?  In the words of King David out of 2 Samuel 24, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord…offerings that have cost me nothing!”(NIV)

I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and transform the way you think about Worship.  I do not want the Lord of creation to say that my worship is “nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”

If you desire to know more about what God sees as true worship…open up the Word and ask Him to show you!   I don’t know of any other book that would be a better resource than the love letter our God has already given us!   Worship is just a response to what He has done!  I invite you on an exciting journey of discovering who God is and how we can worship Him.

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Beth grew up in a conservative, home school family of 12 (6 brothers, 3 sisters, mom and dad!) in southern Oregon.  She came to the saving knowledge of Christ at age 5 and dedicated her life to serving the Lord at age 14.

She has always had a heart for music.  God began to stir that within her at a very young age. God has directed her through many different circumstances to teach, train and mold her into the person able to fill this role of Director of Worship Arts.

Beth taught at a Christian performing arts studio for 4 years, traveled with the Continental Singers for almost 3 years.   She stepped into a leadership role in the music ministry at her church in Oregon.  God used this to instill in her a heart to lead in worship.  She led the Worship ministry in Oregon for almost 2 years before God called her to PA.  She moved to this area not knowing why, but she was confident that God had called her here.

God has used the family of believers at Antrim to help her realize and walk out the gifts that God has given her and she feels very blessed to be able to serve as the Director of Worship Arts!

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The Discipleship Council, in cooperation with the Bishop, promotes Christian Education, training, equipping and leadership development within the Allegheny Conference.