This episode of Real Talk welcomes multiple special guests.
Cole and Kelsey Forehand are Worship Leaders at Oak City Church in Birmingham, AL, and are also partner worship leaders for Stained Glass Ministries (not to mention being Dale and Jena's son and daughter-in-law). They are joined by Adrienne Scott of Brave Sparrow Publishing (www.brave-sparrow.com) to discuss worship and living lifestyles of worship. You are going to love this conversation!
When we prepared to begin Real Talk, we sent out a topic survey asking for areas of relationships, faith, and more that YOU wanted to learn more about, and worship was "voted for" multiple times. We are excited to dive into what "real worship" or "a lifestyle of worship" looks like!
When thinking about worship, considering different avenues to worship, or having any conversation around worship, one of the best things we can do is reset our "pre-sets".
A pre-set is anything we have in our mind that says "worship is this".
Some pre-sets we would suggest resetting would be Church, Music, Buildings, Service Times, Songs or Singers, etc. Instead of allowing those things to be what we are pre-set to tune into when it comes to worship, let's look at the word itself.
The Biblical definition of the word worship is
the presenting of our bodies to The Lord.
This doesn't have anything to do with music, service times, or even gatherings. Instead, it speaks to simply coming to The Lord and saying "Here I am", and giving Him the worth (Worship = Worth-ship) that He rightly deserves - and He carries a lot of worthiness!
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that worship is something that happens at certain times on a certain day in a certain place with certain elements and gets us through the other times, days, places, and elements that we face before coming back to "worship" again. However, for most of us (just based on the numerous requests we received to cover this topic), we know that something is missing.
There is something deep within us that knows there is something more to be experienced in worship and we are crying out to find it.
Let's take a quick look at what we would guess is the most common pre-set that people turn on when they think about worship. The "music" pre-set. How often do you go about life, walk around your house, or drive your car and have worship music turned on? How often, during those times, are you consciously seeking to give God what he is worthy of? Did you stop to encounter and be in The Presence of God? Or are you simply using worship music as the background noise of your day?
When we turn on our worship "music" pre-set,
we can easily miss The Presence of God.
Sometimes music can even become an idol that distracts us and steals our worship away from The One to Who we are showing worthiness. When preferences get in the way (I like this worship leader, I only like to listen to this style, this song is really what gets me into worship, etc) or when we find ourselves in a place of needing music in our worship, it can become the refuge that we seek instead of Jesus being that refuge.
Another trap that the music pre-set brings with it is words. If you listen to worship music and listen to worship music and listen to worship music again, you find yourself under a bombardment of someone else's words about God. If we truly want to create and live, a lifestyle of worship, it becomes about what we want to say to The Lord, and what we are doing from our hearts to His - instead of allowing someone else (no matter how great they are) to put words in our mouths.
When we make this switch, worship becomes about our connection
- a personal and intimate one - with Him
7 words are used in Scripture that we have translated to mean praise. One of those words - Tehillah - speaks to "the new song". Sometimes we need to sing the new song, and that new song will always be our own words whether it is in our hearts or out loud through our voices. The beautiful grace of The Father is that Psalm 100 (make a joyful noise to The Lord...) doesn't say anything about making a perfect, on-pitch, masterful, or even a beautiful noise unto The Lord - just one filled with joy!
Whether or not you are musical, the call to lift up the new song still applies. Your new song might just be speaking the name of Jesus, telling Him how much you love Him, or singing the words "thank you", or anything in between.
Your new song doesn't need to be a perfected creation
to please the heart of The Father.
The new song is important because it protects us from allowing a pre-recorded song from another church, ministry, or person's words to become the only outlet we use to ascribe worthiness to The Father. We often listen to so much musical worship and then wonder why we feel spiritually dry, and it might be because we are not lifting up our new song. Instead of listening to a song and stopping, what if you took a moment to pause, ask The Holy Spirit what YOU need to give to The Lord right now, take a step further, and actually listen to what He has to say back, and then worship Him that way.
Sometimes we do too much talking/singing,
when really we need to turn it off and listen for what He has for us
during a time of worship.
"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers."
- Psalm 1:1-3
Worship can simply be taking the time to listen and meditate on His words - written and spoken. Yes, there is a time for making our requests known and speaking to The Lord, but just like any other relationship, we cannot do all the talking or we miss out on the other person's perspective - in this case, a better and perfect one!
Worship is, in itself, a relational act!
The term "lifestyle of worship" is rather church-y and, as with many church-y terms, there can be some confusion about its meaning. One person to look at to gain some clarity on this term is Abraham. This is a person who consistently responds with "whatever you ask" - leave your home and go somewhere I will show you later, walk the breadth of this land, wait on my promise, take your son (my promise) and sacrifice him to me. His answer remains the same - yes, Lord. In all of Abraham's "yes's" we see a lifestyle of worship.
A lifestyle of worship doesn't mean you listen to a lot of worship music or you sit still with The Lord for multiple hours each day - instead, it is always giving Him a "yes". A lifestyle of worship is always giving Him what He is worth, always answering when He calls, always being willing to make whatever sacrifice (even a child on an altar) that He asks of me because my lifestyle is all about showing worth-ship.
Worship is to listen and obey.
Worship is Yes and Amen.
Worship is saying "Here I Am"
What would it look like for you to make the turn away from suppressing the voice of God when you hear it to go on doing whatever you are doing, and instead begin to respond with "Here I am"? You will be blown away by what God can do in the last 5 minutes of your lunch break, commute, walk, etc - it will change your entire day, it will lead you into the best day, meal, drive, etc you've ever had!
Let us become willing and open to what The Lord
wants to do in each and every moment.
Even when we come home from a long day and all we want to do is turn on the TV, get on social media, or whatever our chosen "decompressor" is, there is a better choice we can make. Instead of using these decompressors, what if we turned to The Lord as the first place in our exhaustion? The arguments are plenty - I'm too tired to even comprehend the word, my brain is used up, my body aches, etc - so maybe it needs to be fully resting with The Lord.
Laying prostrate or on our backs, recognizing that we have nothing to give Him at this moment, setting the time aside for Him to be our first place to go to will open us up to new encounters, meditating on the scriptures already hidden in our hearts and receiving new revelation, even a power nap where He refuels and refreshes us beyond the length of our slumber, and so much more. Whatever it looks like to give Jesus the first place - in our cooking, in our lunch hour, in our drive home - is worth it because He can do extraordinary things in very short periods of time!
It would be counter-productive for us to give all of these ideas without recognizing the fact that everything we have mentioned thus far is going to require some form of sacrifice. Sacrifice in worship connects us back to the ancient worship of the Israelites at the temple (wilderness and established) - the entirety of their "service" was centered around the altar and their sacrifices to The Lord.
When we push past the wall of comfort and allow a cost to be asked of us, we experience something that we never would have had we not pushed on
Maybe it means singing a song for 5 minutes longer than you normally do.
And you find the Ram in the thicket.
Maybe it looks like singing the same words for multiple minutes.
And you experience new revelation about the words.
Maybe it looks like sensing and pushing past the twinge of comfortability.
And you take the next step deeper into the Holy of Holies.
Maybe you turn off the music you've been listening to and start to sing.
And you see the scales fall from your eyes.
The Bible is a book full of examples of what happens when we push through and God meets us on the other side - this is where the miraculous lives. If we could just get better at feeling the twinge, choosing sacrifice and risk, and pushing past it - we would experience something amazing. The grace of The Holy Spirit means we don't have to do any of this alone. Our first step can always be asking The Holy Spirit for help - I don't know what to do here, give me the words to say, extend my time, etc - and believing that He will do what He promises He can do!
We want to leave you with what can happen when we turn off our pre-sets, offer our own words, live a "here I am" lifestyle, and push past comfort into sacrifice and risk. Habitation.
There is a worship theologian, author, worship leader, and teacher named Bob Sorge who has, in his newest resource, shared about the coming shift from encounter worship to habitation worship. Encounter worship is where the Church has been for the last 20 or so years - come to a gathering, encounter God's Presence, leave and go about life. Habitation worship is when God's Presence comes and remains with us - we won't be able to fit the people coming, we will leave churches behind to go to stadiums and fields and super domes, and people will experience healings, salvation, and miracles simply by walking into the presence of those He inhabits.
Habitation worship is a worship lifestyle.
After all, we've only got 80-90 years here before we move into our next phase of eternity where we inhabit the same space of God forever and ever. Until that happens, how do we pray without ceasing, how do we worship at all times? Well, we can't - we have to eat, sleep, work, etc - instead it's that our heart remains in this place before the Lord throughout the doings of our day. This way, when He inhabits a place or a moment we can respond with recognition and a response to lean into what He is doing. This is how we live in Habitation Worship while on Earth.
How do we grow in this? Our secret place.
The intentionality, even the discomfort, of making time to spend with The Lord in a consistent way must be guarded with our very lives.
Meditating on His word (psalm 1), gazing at the beauty of Jesus (psalm 27), spending time in His presence is the wisest thing that we can do. It keeps our hearts poised to The Lord - now, when He says, hey go talk to that person or stay out of that conversation, we know His voice and can respond appropriately. Time in the secret place is what forges us into a people whose hearts are in-step, right next to His. This is where The Fear of The Lord comes. Saying no to coffee with that friend, sleeping in even when your kids kept you up all night, or not watching that next episode of the show you're watching - this is all worth it when compared to what we receive when we give Jesus what He deserves - He is our first love, this is a romanticized relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom, and there is a poeticness to our interactions with Him.
To leave you with one thing from Cole, Kelsey, and Adrienne...
When Mary is sitting at His feet and Martha is complaining, He defends Mary and says, "She is doing what is best, and it cannot be taken from her." This - worship - is the one thing that is necessary and it cannot be taken from you. There it is and there is the promise. This is why we get in the secret place, this is why we have lifestyles of worship - because it cannot be taken from us, and it is what is needed! It is the wisest, best thing that we could ever do. It is eternal and it won't fade with the grass. This is us pumping eternity into our hearts. Get in Jesus' face as much as you can!!
Living a lifestyle of worship just means giving God what He is worthy of, and it takes a sacrifice. But does it ever compare to the sacrifice that Jesus gave? and is He worth it? Does it compare to Jesus' sacrifice and is He worth it?
We have touched on so many beautiful ways to do worship, so if one is really resonating with you, it is probably The Lord! This is probably The Holy Spirit saying, "this is a great way for you to dive in!" A lifestyle of worship is not a rubric or a rulebook to follow. What is connecting with your spirit? Lean into that and go for that! Go after Jesus, because He is worthy. Sit at His feet, because it's the one thing that cant be taken from you. Find the way that you get there, and protect it and go after it with everything you have.
We believe that The Lord is calling us, The Church, into deeper levels of worship with Him and that the best is yet to come!
If you missed this week's RealTalk video, you can find it by clicking below
To learn more about Adrienne Scott and Brave Sparrow Publishing, including resources, teaching opportunities, and more visit
Dale and Jena Forehand are the founders of Stained Glass Ministries a non-profit 501 C3 ministry. They offer conferences and resources to build real relationships.
To find out more about their amazing grace story of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage to one another visit their website www.daleandjena.com.
You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram at @daleandjena