Celebration Worship

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3).

Lots of comfortable, well-worn words here.  Sometimes familiarity can hide the truest meaning of the language.

For example, God is “great.”

(God is good, let us thank Him for our…)

Hang on a minute. [click to continue…]

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Violin 2Hey.  Come on in.  Shut the door behind you.

Ha!  No, you aren’t in trouble.  I just wanted to show you something important, without a lot of distractions.  You doing OK?

So, just curious… how’s your praise life?

Yeah, that’s probably what I would have said, too.

Yes, actually, that is what I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to share an experience that actually happened several years ago, but it totally changed how I approach my relationship with God – particularly praise and worship.

Well, yeah, praise and worship at church with the music and all that.  But more importantly, praising God in my prayer time.  You know that old hymn that says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise?”  Yeah, well, the Lord showed me how to do that, and it was pretty life-changing. [click to continue…]

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When the burdens overwhelm me
And the floods begin to rise
When I see the circumstances
Through lonely, helpless eyes,
There’s a place to go for refuge
And a place to be restored.
And when the storm has passed away,
I’ll be stronger than before.

It’s a place called Higher Ground.  David referred to it as a “rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1).  “Take me there when my heart is overwhelmed,” he prayed.

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, it was fairly common to hear small craft advisories and warnings of approaching storms or hurricanes in which people in “low‑lying areas” are warned to move to higher ground.  The danger for them is that the storm can literally overwhelm them.

In Psalm 61, David finds himself in a situation in which he is under such pressure of heart that he doesn’t think he can deal with it by himself.  He’s in a “low-lying area” spiritually and circumstantially.  Can you relate? [click to continue…]

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When the armies of Napoleon swept over Europe, one of his generals intended to make an attack on the little town of Feldrich on the Austrian border.  It was Easter, and as Napoleon’s great army maneuvered nearby, the citizens hurried together to decide whether to surrender or to attempt a defense, futile as it seemed the effort would be.

The pastor of the church remarked, “We have been counting on our own strength, and that will fail.  This is the day of our Lord’s resurrection.  Let us ring the bells and have service as usual, and leave the matter in God’s hands.”  The council accepted his plan, and in a few minutes the bells were chiming out joy over their Lord’s resurrection.

Napoleon’s army misunderstood the meaning of the ringing bells, decided they were announcing the arrival of Austrian reinforcements, broke camp and retreated from the area as fast as possible!  God honored those who worshipped the risen Christ even in the presence of possible death, and used their worship to drive away the enemy!

An old book title says it well:  There’s Dynamite in Praise!

If there is any greater untapped resource than prayer among God’s people today, it is praise. [click to continue…]

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If you just read the title of this and are still reading, you don’t have time for cute stories or complicated formulas, so I’ll just get to the point, if that’s OK.

If you are in a situation where you are at a complete loss as to what to do, it’s because you need to reset your glance and your gaze.  You have allowed your gaze – your long-term focus – to become set on your circumstances, your prayer request, your frustration, your pain, your desperate desire for change, or something other than the Lord.  You’re glancing at God, asking Him to fix whatever you’re gazing at.

Nice try.  I understand why.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Reset your gaze on God, and your glance on the world around you.

That’s what it means to wait on the Lord.

That’s what it means to praise, or to worship

Yes, that’s in the Bible. [click to continue…]

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Remember the time your life was changed because you doubted your ability, and someone you trusted convinced you that you could do it? 

Do you remember the healing effect that took place when somebody who hurt you deeply said those magic words?  “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry” changed everything in an instant.

How about the time somebody saw something in you that you couldn’t see in yourself – something unique, special, gifted – and pointed it out?

All of these are examples of the six most powerful things you can say to someone.

You and I wouldn’t have to talk very long to agree that words have power.  The old proverb still rings true that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  If that’s true, then doesn’t it make sense that we have the power to intentionally choose life with our words?

I’ve made my living with words for a long time.  And yes, I have seen up close and personal how words can crush someone’s spirit, destroy relationships, and create a slow (or quick) march to death.  But I have also been on both sides of conversations where words gave life, strength, renewed passion and courage.

There are all kinds of ways to encourage, inform, and give new vision.  But six expressions stand apart, in a league of their own.  If you want to take your words to the next stratosphere, try one or all of these six in your relationships: [click to continue…]

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Lonely for God

by Andy Wood on September 17, 2010

in Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance, Waiting

Thomasville, Alabama.  A long time ago.  I was driving from Jackson to Tuscaloosa and had stopped for gas at one of those places where they still pumped it for you.  Young man walks out and gets the pump going while I’m pretty much minding my own business.  I’m wearing jeans and tennis shoes, with some casual shirt.

He eyes me and asks, “You a minister?”

(I hated then and hate now looking like a preacher.)

“Yes,” I replied, surprised.  “How did you know?”

“You have this glow about ‘cha,” he said with a smile.

I was surprised again, and blessed.  This wasn’t a particularly glowing trip.  I was driving north to unload a car on the back end of a dumb purchase that had left us pretty beaten down financially.  It was a desperate move to get out of a stupid debt.

Glow?  I’d have to take that one by faith.  It felt more like I was panting.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So my soul pants for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

Ever feel like you were panting?  Like you couldn’t quite catch your breath as you went from one thing to another?  From one stressor to another?  From one disappointment to another? [click to continue…]

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There wasn’t much about Barry Wheeler to command respect.  He was certainly no athlete.  His skinny frame was the product of a lifetime of allergies and a bad case of asthma that earned him the cruel nickname of “Barry Wheezer.”

Barry was no musician or class politician.  He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and his shy, withdrawn personality made him just another face in the crowd at high school in Topeka.

Barry was no geekzilla either.  A “B” student in regular classes, nobody called Barry out for the National Honor Society – or any honor, for that matter.

Barry was just a guy.  But he had one thing going for him. [click to continue…]

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Sand Castles and Dandelions

by Andy Wood on August 18, 2009

in Esteem, Life Currency, Love, Words

A famous writer once described a beach scene where two children, a boy and a girl, were building an elaborate sand castle near the water’s edge.  It had gates and towers and moats and internal passages.  Just when they nearly finished the project, a huge wave tumbled in and knocked the whole thing down.  Instead of bursting into tears because of losing their hard work, the girl and boy ran up the shore from the water, laughing and holding hands, and started work on another castle.

It seems so instinctive to children.  Take the most wonder-filled moments the day has to offer – a castle made of sand, or a dandelion just waiting to be carried by the wind – and look for someone to share it with in love.  But time and age have a way of turning our hearts if we let them.  Castle-building becomes the higher priority, and dandelions become annoying weeds.

Here is the author’s takeaway:

All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand… Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up.  When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will be able to laugh.

sand castlesLike anybody else who’s been around a while, I have my share of regrets.  One of them has been the tendency to walk away from relationships when it was time to “move up the beach and build the next castle.”  Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have some people in my life who wouldn’t take “Good-bye” as the last word, and that’s a good thing.  Had it been left up to me, that relationship would have faded away.  I’m working on changing that.

In the previous post, I mentioned that even in an isolated prison, the Apostle Paul found a way to stay close to the people he loved.  In particular, he was a master at using words.  All throughout his life and ministry, this man knew just what to say or write to draw people to him, and to Christ.

Maybe we can learn some things from Paul’s example.  Once you know who’s in your heart (or who you’d like to have there), here are some ways to keep them close: [click to continue…]

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22 Words to Start or Refresh Your Day

by Andy Wood on May 12, 2009

in 100 Words

sunriseLet my lips pour out praise,
Let my tongue sing of your promise,
Let my soul live that I may praise you.
(From Psalm 119:171-172, 175)

(Note to self)…

When you’re stymied by writer’s block,

slowed by illness,

sleepy emotionally, or

stressed by unfinished business,

go back to the basics.

God is – I’m His.

He has designed and purchased,

created and redeemed

the right to a life

– my life –

poured out,


lavishly living in praise.

Creativity flows from where worship goes.

And nobody animates tired souls like the Living God.

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