Going From Fan To Follower In Worship

Cheryl @42 337

This year’s Church Theme-“From Fan to Follower-Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus Christ” has been a chal­leng­ing theme for me. Since last year, Pastor Bottoms has been prep­ping us for the theme-he told us about the book; he host­ed a work­shop on it for us, so we were fore­warned-thank you Pastor Bottoms! Sis Janie McCall blessed me with a copy of the Kyle Idleman book (Not a Fan), and I was so hap­py-anoth­er book to read, and I SO love to read. However, I got as far as the pro­logue, and real­ized that this was not just any “book”. I couldn’t bring myself to read past the first few pages for about 6 months, and it col­lect­ed dust on my night table. The first few pages alone brought such a con­vic­tion over me, and in spite of how high­ly I thought of myself in regards to my walk with Christ, I clear­ly saw that there was a like­ly pos­si­bil­i­ty that I was sim­ply a fan, a fraud, a fake, a hyp­ocrite, a Pharisee???? Little by lit­tle, I began to read the book. Line by line, page by page, chap­ter by chap­ter, the book has pro­voked much intro­spec­tion, self-reflec­tion, and self-exam­i­na­tion, as nev­er before. Causing me to “DTR”-define the rela­tion­ship that I have with Jesus Christ-by His stan­dards. And I still have 6 chap­ters to go! But God is faithful‑I know that He who has begun a good work in me is faith­ful to com­plete it, Just so you all know, I had a dif­fer­ent top­ic for today. Relevant, but dif­fer­ent.

 Pastor, Beulah Baptist Church. Poughkeepsie, NY. www.beulahweb.org. Meet Pastor "B". Rev. Jesse Voyd Bottoms, Jr

Pastor, Beulah Baptist Church. Poughkeepsie, NY. www​.beu​lah​web​.org. Meet Pastor “B”. Rev. Jesse Voyd Bottoms, Jr

I was in the hos­pi­tal, and God had my full atten­tion. And I couldn’t stop think­ing about WORSHIP, this 7 let­ter word that is often mis­un­der­stood, and what that real­ly means. Many of us love to think of our­selves as “wor­ship­pers”, because we like to sing, or we love the so-called “Praise and Worship” por­tion of the ser­vice, or like to lis­ten to Christian/​Gospel music. But what is a true wor­ship­per? Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman at the well ring as true today as it did when He declared them over 2,000 years ago-“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the TRUE WORSHIPPERS shall wor­ship the Father in spir­it and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to wor­ship him. God is spir­it, and they that wor­ship Him must wor­ship Him in spir­it and in truth” (JOHN 4:23 – 24). So today I’d like to talk to you about “GOING FROM FAN TO FOLLOWER IN WORSHIP

For a long time, a very long time, I oper­at­ed under the mis­con­cep­tion that wor­ship was some­thing that I did when I came to church, sang a song, or when I lift­ed my hands to God in prayer or praise. I’ve now learned that wor­ship is not rel­e­gat­ed to just these things. I’m learn­ing that wor­ship-true wor­ship-is obe­di­ence and sac­ri­fice to God, in every area of my life, and glo­ri­fy­ing God in every­thing that I do-EVERYTHING! So…this means that wor­ship is much more than the lat­est, most pop­u­lar “wor­ship” songs, so much more than per­for­mance in a choir, or on the Praise and Worship Team, the Dance Ministry, or play­ing an instru­ment in the Music Ministry, although all these things can be PART of wor­ship. However, these things do not ful­ly describe what wor­ship is. I’m find­ing out, with every day, as I move from fan to fol­low­er that wor­ship is a lifestyle‑a way of life. It should be part of the core pur­pose of every believ­er. Isaiah 43:21 lets us know that we have this pur­pose, because it declares-“This peo­ple have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise”. I believe “this peo­ple” also applies to the Church today, the Ecclesiasts, the called out ones-we were made for God’s plea­sure. We were cre­at­ed for and have been saved to wor­ship him, to bring him glo­ry. Pastor Bottoms has taught us that to give God glo­ry is to declare His full wor­thi­ness. We declare God’s wor­thi­ness by liv­ing a life for him that he will be pleased with, because he is wor­thy of get­ting the best out of our lives! So, Rick Warren’s book-“The Purpose Driven Life” (which is used in the 40 Days class, as a sup­ple­men­tal resource, but as all of the past and present 40 DAYS stu­dents know-OUR BIBLE IS OUR TEXTBOOK) helps us by ask­ing us-what on earth am I here for? For many years, I strug­gled with the answer to this sim­ple, yet pro­found ques­tion-Cheryl-what IS your pur­pose? What are you here for? What were you born for? I can now say that I know for a fact, with­out a doubt, that I was cre­at­ed to bring God

Beulah Baptist Church Poughkeepsie

Beulah Baptist Church Poughkeepsie

glo­ry! I was cre­at­ed to serve him, and to serve his peo­ple. Growing up in my house, as the 6th of 7 chil­dren, I would often do what­ev­er it took to let my voice be heard, above the voic­es of my old­er sib­lings. Ok-some­times I was loud, and down­right obnox­ious. Often, my moth­er would say to me-Girl, you have a BIG mouth! I wouldn’t take that too kind­ly then, but now, I no longer feel bad about that, because now I know WHY I have a big mouth-GOD gave me this mouth to give him praise, to tell some­body about HIM! So I’m learn­ing that God can use your per­son­al­i­ty, even your charis­ma, to bring him­self glo­ry. So…if WORSHIP is a lifestyle, and not just a Sunday morn­ing, Church-based activ­i­ty, what is it? WORSHIP is a men­tal­i­ty. A belief sys­tem, a val­ue sys­tem. We WORSHIP God in the way that we live our lives, in the way that we love and treat one anoth­er. We WORSHIP God in the way that we per­form min­istry. In the way that we take care of our bod­ies. WORSHIP is when we make a deci­sion on what we stand for, when we line up our prin­ci­ples and pri­or­i­ties with what God says in his Holy Word. WORSHIP –bring­ing God glo­ry- should be our dai­ly moti­va­tion, the rea­son why we do every­thing that we do. Because we have been com­mand­ed by God to serve him with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, and with all of our minds! David inquired (In Psalm 116:12) “what shall I ren­der to God for all of his ben­e­fits”? David want­ed to know-what it was that He could give to God; to demon­strate his grat­i­tude for all that God had done for him-for all of his many bless­ings bestowed upon him. David want­ed to give some­thing back to God, yet being ful­ly aware that there was noth­ing that he could ever give to pay God back in full. We as fol­low­ers need to ask God this ques­tion-God, what can we do for you today, and for the rest of our lives. We owe God every­thing, because every­thing that we are, and every­thing that we have are all due to the good­ness of God.

As I lay in that hos­pi­tal bed at Vassar, I took out my paper and pen­cil, and began to write an acros­tic for WORSHIP, with each let­ter rep­re­sent­ing a spe­cif­ic area that I need to WORSHIP God in. You can cre­ate your own; it may be dif­fer­ent for you. But these are the things God dealt with me on:

Pastor Bottoms Delivering the word of God

Pastor Bottoms
Delivering the word of God

W‑represents WILLINGNESS to WORSHIP and fol­low God. Luke 9:23, our key verse for this year begins with the con­junc­tion “IF”. This sig­ni­fies a con­di­tion­al sit­u­a­tion. We must be WILLING to wor­ship and fol­low Jesus. God gives us “free choice”-He is a free will God-he doesn’t force us-he offers us an oppor­tu­ni­ty, a covenant, and we either accept the call to fol­low, or we don’t. But God can sure­ly orches­trate cir­cum­stances to MAKE you will­ing. Brokenness can MAKE you will­ing. Scandal can make you will­ing. A look at your wretched­ness can MAKE you will­ing. Some peo­ple come to God with­out resistance-that’s not my tes­ti­mo­ny. I was doing my own thing, right in the church, act­ing like a typ­i­cal fan, chart­ing what I thought was my own course in life. It took brokenness‑a real­iza­tion that I had to have full depen­dence on God, and that God had a plan for my life that didn’t include my las­civ­i­ous lifestyle. I need­ed to sub­mit to His will. It made me run to Jesus. And I’m still run­ning to him to this day. When I received the rev­e­la­tion of his sin­cere love, com­mit­ment and sac­ri­fice for me, it made me want to stop shack­ing up with him, and move to a com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship with my Father. I owe Him me. He proved his pas­sion for me, by pick­ing up the cross, car­ry­ing it all the way to Calvary, and dying for my sins, my faults, my inad­e­qua­cies. Because Jesus was will­ing, that empow­ers me to be will­ing, even when I don’t “feel” like it. Yes, we have to count up the cost, every day, as we move from fan to fol­low­er. Being a dis­ci­ple WILL cost us some­thing, some­times every­thing. It cost Jesus shame, his life, and tem­po­rary sep­a­ra­tion from the Father. Yet he count­ed up the cost, and said “Yes” to the Father. We too must take up our cross dai­ly, in order to fol­low him. As fol­low­ers, we shouldn’t expect a care­free, prob­lem-free life. We will be test­ed, tried, chal­lenged, attacked, and expe­ri­ence all types of dif­fi­cul­ties when we make the choice to fol­low Jesus. We may lose friends, fam­i­ly, posi­tion, oppor­tu­ni­ties. But the Bible promis­es us that the ben­e­fits of being a fol­low­er will out­weigh the costs.“God, Help me, help us to be WILLING to fol­low you all the way”.

O‑the “O” in WORSHIP for me, stands for OBEDIENCE. This can be a hard word some­times, one that we would soon­er for­get, sweep under the rug, or put in the dust­bin of our lives, until WE are ready to pick it back up again. And we tend to do the “easy” things for us indi­vid­u­al­ly, and then feel as if we have sat­is­fied our oblig­a­tion to God. I come to church on Sunday (maybe)-check; Bible Study on Tuesday (sometimes)-check; pay our tithes (or a por­tion of it)-check; sing in the choir-check; go to/​teach Sunday school or mem­ber­ship class-check; and the list goes on. But I often sense God ask­ing to me, as the prophet Samuel asked Saul (I Samuel 15:22 – 23)-“Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offer­ings, as in obey­ing the voice of the Lord? Behold, to OBEY is bet­ter than sac­ri­fice, and to hear­ken than the fat of rams??? In the greater scheme of things, the choice between the two are clear-OBEDIENCE is always bet­ter! But we would rather give God our reli­gious offer­ings, instead of offer­ing God what HE requires. God gave Saul spe­cif­ic instruc­tions on what to do with the spoils of the bat­tle. Saul decid­ed with­in him­self to dis­re­gard God’s direc­tives, and took back what he want­ed, with the excuse that his intent was to sac­ri­fice it to God. But God nev­er asked him to do that! We need to give God what HE asks for! We bring our self-right­eous­ness and our sac­ri­fices to God-the one’s that we have deemed to be impor­tant, in an attempt to make up for our dis­obe­di­ence, and expect God to accept it. For years I did the same thing-think­ing that I could sing a solo to make up for going so low in my con­duct and behav­ior. That I could bring God a filthy sac­ri­fice of praise, like the chil­dren of Israel did, when they pre­sent­ed sick and blem­ished lambs and bul­locks to the altar. True wor­ship­pers give God what HE wants-and he wants US to obey him. “God, help me, help us to be tru­ly obe­di­ent in what you com­mand us to do, as true fol­low­ers”.

R‑the “R” for me, stands for REVERENCE FOR GOD’S HOLY WORD. John 1:1, 14a, very famil­iar pas­sages to most of us, tells us that “in the begin­ning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”. So God is the Word, and became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ, and dwelt in the earth. So-the Word of God is impor­tant. If I want to be a true fol­low­er, I need to respect the Word of God, be excit­ed about the Word, Study the Word, and give his say­ings the high­est author­i­ty in my life. The Word should be my dai­ly bread, what I need to sur­vive-not Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, my Crackberry (as my hus­band Mike labels my cell­phone) or my IPhone or IPAD (unless you’re using it to access the Word). As we crave the Word, and hear the Word, and apply the Word to our lives, it will begin to pro­duce results-we will go from being fans/​hearers of the Word, to becom­ing followers/​doers of the Word, and there­fore we will stop deceiv­ing our own selves (James 1:22). The Word will be as a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths, pro­vid­ing us with the direc­tion that we need in our dai­ly lives (Psalm 119:105) . We will respect the Word of God, as we hear it as it is being preached, and lis­ten intent­ly, and let it sat­u­rate our hearts, not play­ing with our cell­phones, going onto every social net­work, car­ry­ing on con­ver­sa­tions while the Word of God is being preached and taught. That way the Word can fall onto good ground, and the dev­il won’t be able to dis­tract us, and steal it from us! When we have rev­er­ence and respect for God’s Word, and it gets into us, and begins to work in and on us, it WILL man­i­fest in our lives. And we’ll feel the same way that Jeremiah felt about the Word, and won’t be able to hold our peace about it; it will be like fire, shut up in our bones! “God help me, help us, to have a true love and rev­er­ence for your Holy Word, so that it will burn in us, and man­i­fest itself in our lives.”

S‑The “S” in WORSHIP, for me stands for being SPIRIT-FILLED. Zechariah 4:6b tells us “…Not by might, not by pow­er, but by my spir­it, saith the Lord of hosts”. We can only go from fan to fol­low­er with the pow­er of the Holy Spirit. Trying to do oth­er­wise leaves me weary, depressed, feel­ing inad­e­quate, miss­ing the mark, and just down­right frus­trat­ed. But when I say “God‑I can’t do this on my own, I need your Spirit, and I know that I can do all things through Christ, who strength­ens me”-the way becomes eas­i­er, I get ener­gized, I get strength for the jour­ney, I actu­al­ly begin to enjoy life, the way God intend­ed me to, and enjoy walk­ing in my pur­pose and des­tiny. From the time that He wakes me up in the morn­ing, I must acknowl­edge Him, and declare my full reliance on Him to do every­thing that I need to do. WORSHIP becomes a delight when we walk in the Spirit. When I claim- every day- that I have the grace that I need, accord­ing as his divine pow­er hath giv­en unto me all things that per­tain to life and god­li­ness, through the knowl­edge of him that hath called me to glo­ry and virtue (2 Peter 1:3)-I’m say­ing that I have every­thing that I need for life-through his divine pow­er! When we walk in the Spirit, and full of His spir­it, we can do every­thing that we need to do, with ease, with grace. This is a chal­lenge for me, as I have a strong-willed, inde­pen­dent spir­it. But God is teach­ing me, and I am learn­ing, that I need to lean and rely total­ly on Him, and not on my own under­stand­ing, or on my own abil­i­ties. When we are full of his Spirit, we will have the pow­er to live Holy lives, to fol­low the Holy exam­ple set by Jesus Christ. We will pro­duce the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, long­suf­fer­ing, gen­tle­ness, good­ness, faith, meek­ness, and tem­per­ance, instead of the works of the flesh. We’ll serve God with a pas­sion, and pur­pose­ly, so that God will not have to spit us out. When we emp­ty our­selves, of our­selves, we’ll have the pow­er to live sac­ri­fi­cial­ly, sanc­ti­fied, and set apart, as true ser­vants of the most High God. “God, help me, and help us to rely ful­ly on you, to walk in and be led by the Holy Spirit each and every day, as we go through the process of fan to fol­low­er”.

H‑Honoring God in all that I do. This means liv­ing on pur­pose. Doing every­thing as an act of wor­ship, with pas­sion, skill­ful­ly, with excel­lence, to the best of our abil­i­ty. Honoring him on my job, in my home, in my finances, in my rela­tion­ships, in the world. Colossians 3:17-“And what­so­ev­er ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giv­ing thanks to God and the Father by him. These and many oth­er scrip­tures tells us that we should give of our best to the Master. At that great day, we will all be held account­able for what we did with what God entrust­ed to us-the gifts, the tal­ents, abil­i­ties, our chil­dren, the time, the mon­ey, and all the oth­er resources that he has made us stew­ards over. Were we wasters? Did we bury our tal­ents, as the wicked ser­vant did, and make excus­es for why we didn’t ful­fill our God-giv­en pur­pose? Were we half-heart­ed in the min­istry-inside and out­side of the walls of the Church? Did I love my neigh­bor as I love myself?

Women's chior

Women’s chior

So why didn’t I throw out the life­line to them, when I knew they were in need of a Savior? Why did I hold (fill in the blank with the name of who­ev­er you refuse to for­give) all of these years? Why didn’t I vis­it the sick, clothe the naked, vis­it those in prison-why didn’t I show God’s love to the “least of these”, or sup­port these mis­sions when I had the means to? Why didn’t I love my fel­low brethren, and treat them with the love of Christ, if I say that I’m his dis­ci­ple? “Lord, I des­per­ate­ly need you to help me, and to help us to be peo­ple who seek to HONOR you in all that we do”.

I‑For me, the “I” in WORSHIP stands for INTEGRITY. If I am to be a true fol­low of Jesus Christ, I will be like Jesus Christ. Jesus was holy. He was with­out sin, and walked in his integri­ty-they could find no fault in him! Although we are human, we can­not con­tin­ue to use this as an excuse to bla­tant­ly prac­tice sin. Followers will seek to have a pure heart towards God, of course through the Holy Spirit, and will have Godly, moral and eth­i­cal stan­dards and Godly char­ac­ter, con­duct and con­ver­sa­tion. True fol­low­ers prayer­ful­ly seek to be wise in busi­ness deal­ings, can be trust­ed with con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion, and speak the truth in Christ and lie not. True fol­low­ers seek to be about their Father’s busi­ness, instead of being in every­body else’s busi­ness. True fol­low­ers seek to main­tain a good rep­u­ta­tion, know­ing that we are his ambas­sadors, and we may be the only Jesus that the unbe­liev­ing world gets to see. “God, help me, and help us to be bet­ter at being chil­dren of Integrity, than the chil­dren of the world are at being crooked”.

P‑Finally, the 7th and final let­ter in WORSHIP, “P” stands for PRAYER AND PRAISE. These should be anchors in the life of every fol­low­er. Jesus remained in con­stant prayer to the Father-he was in con­stant con­nec­tion with Him as he jour­neyed on this earth, up to the very moment of his giv­ing up of the ghost. Prayer keeps the dis­ci­ple con­nect­ed, inti­mate with the Father as well. Jesus kept admon­ish­ing the dis­ci­ples to “watch and pray”, lest ye fall into temp­ta­tion. In these last and evil days, the need for prayer is evi­dent. We MUST pray. Pray for our lead­ers-both civic and spir­i­tu­al. Pray for God’s direc­tion, for his pro­tec­tion. Pray for believ­ers every­where. Pray for our com­mu­ni­ties. Pray for inti­ma­cy with God, pray for dis­cern­ment. Pray to inter­cede for oth­ers, and for our­selves. The things to pray for are bound­less. Deaconess Donna Johnson has pro­vid­ed for us a list of 80 things to pray for in the com­ing year. And even when we don’t know what to pray for as we ought, Romans 8:26 says that we should still pray, for the spir­it will give us what to pray for. For we wres­tle not against flesh and blood, but against prin­ci­pal­i­ties, against pow­ers, against the rulers of the dark­ness of this world, against spir­i­tu­al wicked­ness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). People of God, in case you don’t know, we are in a spir­i­tu­al bat­tle, the fight OF our lives, and FOR our lives-one that we can­not see with our phys­i­cal eyes, or that we can fight with our phys­i­cal weapons. The ene­my of our souls, that wicked dev­il, is fight­ing for ter­ri­to­ry. He seeks to destroy us by any means nec­es­sary. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that we can defeat him, through the pow­er of PRAYER, and PRAISE! The good news is that the prayers of the right­eous availeth much! The good news is that God inhab­its the prais­es of his peo­ple! God is there in the midst of our prayers, and our prais­es, while we are in the heat of the bat­tle. More good news is that we can pray and praise any­time and any­where-in our home, in our cars as we dri­ve, on our knees, stand­ing up, eyes closed, or eyes opened. That’s how you can pray with­out ceas­ing. Have a prayer and praise in your heart at all times. Bless the Lord at all times; let his prais­es con­tin­u­al­ly be in your mouth. Praise is comely-it’s pleas­ing, and appeal­ing to God. For the spir­it of heav­i­ness, put on the gar­ment of praise! Let’s put our war clothes on! We praise Him for WHO he is and in grat­i­tude for WHAT he’s done, and what he IS going to do. We must ALL praise him-for the BIBLE says let EVERYTHING that hath breathe, praise ye the Lord! We should nev­er have to scratch our heads for a rea­son to praise God. God’s got rocks ready to praise him if we won’t praise him! When I was of the world, I par­tied like a rock star. So as a fol­low­er, I ought to give God my best praise‑I ought to shout unto God with the voice of tri­umph, to bless his name, to dance before my God, for he has done mar­velous things! On 0912, I went to Vassar Hospital, with chest pains, and feel­ing fatigued. They found my pres­sure to be high, and my potas­si­um lev­el low, which they said can cause chest pains. They admit­ted me, as a pre­cau­tion, to do fur­ther test­ing on my heart, to make sure there was no block­age, etc. In the ear­ly hours of the next morn­ing, after they had sent Mike home, a tech­ni­cian came in to put an IV in my arm. I began to feel nau­seous and very weak. All of a sud­den, the Rapid Response Team came rush­ing in-accord­ing to their mon­i­tor; my heart rate had fall­en to 34, and was drop­ping steadi­ly. They pre­pared to admin­is­ter a shock to my heart. All the while, I’m begin­ning to lose con­scious­ness, but I could still hear and see what is going on in a lim­it­ed capac­i­ty, and the nurs­es were admon­ish­ing me to keep my eyes open, and not go to sleep. As I lay in that bed, I could lit­er­al­ly feel myself dying‑a crazy feel­ing. I lay there, and I thought, God is this how I’m going to die? Is this it? I’m done here on earth? I then resigned myself to give in to the feel­ing, think­ing, well-at least I’m going to heav­en, and I’ll be at rest. It may sound corny, or cliché, but in an instant, the faces of my fam­i­ly mem­bers came into my spir­it, and some­thing, I believe it was the Holy Spirit, urged me to call the name of Jesus. I had very lit­tle strength, but was able to whis­per-“ Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. I was so weak in my body. BUT GOD heard my prayer, my sim­ple prayer!

Men's chior

Men’s chior

I didn’t have the strength or abil­i­ty to say a deep, long and intri­cate prayer, all I could do was call “Jesus”! Thank God, he was the only one that I HAD to call! HALLELUJAH!!! Little by lit­tle, moment by moment I began to feel a lit­tle stronger. When the room final­ly cleared, and the doc­tor spoke to me, he told me-we almost lost you. He and the nurs­es asked me if I remem­bered what had hap­pened. The nurs­es said-“you kept call­ing Jesus…” I told them “yes, I know that. I knew that he could help me, and he did.”

Now more than ever before, I don’t have time to waste time. None of us do. It is appoint­ed for men once to die, and then the judg­ment. The thing is we just don’t know WHEN that time will come. Like Pastor Bottoms says- the only pre-req­ui­site for dying is to be alive. God is too good to me for me to not fol­low him. He is too faith­ful to me to not fol­low him. He is every­thing to me‑I WANT to live a life of wor­ship for him. I can’t remain sat­is­fied with being a fan. There’s too much work to be done in the vine­yard, souls to saved, lives to be deliv­ered and set free. And God wants to use US (you and myself) to do it-isn’t that an amaz­ing priv­i­lege? We are his hands and feet-to min­is­ter to those in need. Just want to encour­age those who think “it’s impos­si­ble, it’s too hard, I can’t change”: that if God can change me, and use me to wor­ship him, he can use any­body. If he can change me from being a true fan, to being a fol­low­er in train­ing, he can change you too. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you, find your inspi­ra­tion, your moti­va­tion to fol­low Jesus, find out what he requires of you, and allow him to mold and shape you into a true fol­low­er of Jesus Christ.

GOD BLESS YOU!

Cheryl Beckles