Introduction

Indiana Jones. Just the mention of his name, for most of us in the western hemisphere, starts the trumpets playing his theme song in our heads. That name conjures up images of exciting, heroic adventures, too. Adventures where good triumphs over evil; where the uncovering of ancient artifacts, from history and legend, meet twentieth century science and technology.

I recall from the third installment, entitled Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a plot in which Dr. Jones found himself, again, pitted against the evils of the Nazi regime. You’ll recall, if you’re familiar with this film series, that Hitler’s officers had failed to retrieve for him the Ark-of-the-Covenant in the first motion picture, and now Hitler is after the Holy Grail — the very cup of Christ. Why? He believes Christ’s cup will grant, to whomever drinks from it, eternal life.

Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) is fooled into working with the Nazi’s, by a beautiful young scientist named Dr. Elsa Schneider (played by Alison Doody). In the end, it’s Dr. Jones and his father (played by Sean Connery), also a famous archaeologist, who ends up leading the Nazi’s to the chamber where the Holy Grail has been kept hidden almost two-thousand years. Upon entering this chamber they are greeted by a royal guardian (played by Robert Eddison) too old to fight, but clever enough to hide the holy cup amongst many interesting looking vessels. He looks to his young visitors and bids them choose wisely, for to do so will mean life or death.

As the climax of this plot unfolds, we see one of the Nazi representatives (played by Julian Glover) selecting foolishly and drinking from one of the many chalices of death, represented in the chamber. Then Indie gets his turn. Dr. Jones, carefully ponders the things of Christ and chooses wisely. Indiana ultimately enables himself, and his father, to drink from the cup of eternal life. A great metaphor for what you and I, and really all of humanity, are called to do every day we live. Choose to live according to the truth that brings eternal life, or dare to choose to live according to the many lies that lead to death.

In this study, called Truth or Dare, we will be examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. Most of these chalices will be full of deadly lies, but one — yes, only one — will hold the life giving truths that will lead us to abundant, eternal living.

This brings to mind the childhood game, also known as, Truth or Dare. For those of you unfamiliar with this game, I’ll take a moment to explain it to you. Children would gather and select an arbitrator. Once selected, the appointed leader would challenge each child to either tell a secret truth about themselves or act out a dare dictated to them by the arbitrator of the game. I was always amazed at how scared kids would be to tell a truth about themselves, myself included, but equally amazed at how quickly they would choose the dare, only to regret it later once they learned how diabolical the dare was. Occasionally the arbitrator was kind and dealt out easy dares to accomplish, but many more times the dares were border line criminal and down right immoral. Such too is life.

Humanity is presented with this very same dilemma, on a daily basis. The dilemma? To choose to believe, and speak, the truth of Christ to the rest of humanity or choose to know of the truth, and hide it. The problem with that is, if we don’t choose to confess the truth of Christ before mankind then Christ won’t confess He knows us, on Judgement Day, before God the Father (Matthew 10:32). True faith in Christ equals our obedience to His commands.

The third option that humanity can embrace is to partake in the dares that Satan dictates to them, then eternal death becomes mankind’s destiny. That choice dulls our spiritual senses, forcing us to look death in the face and act as if nothing is wrong; as if all is right and normal. Those that make this choice act on the lie that truth is relevant to their own wants and desires. They accept Satan’s lie that says absolute truth is really the biggest falsehood of the ages. The one really big problem with that — you can’t make the truth go away, and escape it’s consequences, by simply choosing to not believe in it.

You see, just like the Nazi from The Last Crusade believed he chose correctly, so too do many of us choose daring lifestyles, philosophies, and theologies. We whole heartedly believe that we have chosen correctly, only finding out after the fact that we have chosen “poorly,” as the knight from the movie stated, and then death takes us away. It’s imperative that we take the time to study what really is the truth. We must do as Indiana Jones did, and ponder the truth of Christ, and make the wise choice. The choice that will lead us to living an abundant and eternal life. The type of life we, as God’s creation, were meant to enjoy; the life of a true worshiper.

So I ask you to join me in examining the various chalices of our lives. Such vessels as life styles, religion, philosophy, and science (to name a few). Looking them over, one-by-one, and allowing the truth that is the real cup of Christ to illuminate our minds, bodies, and souls. In the end, I trust you will have chosen to drink from the grail that leads to eternal life — the true, holy cup of Jesus Christ.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade TM © 1989, 2008 LUCASFILM LTD. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article 5

Have you ever heard or sung a song and wondered about how it came to be? What burned inside the songwriter’s soul so intensely that it just had to be written down on paper? I know I have — often, too.

Maybe it’s just my curious nature, mixed with my own musical bent, that causes me to think along these lines. Then again, music does move, manipulate, and touch people; no matter our background, education, status in society, or talents. Especially the music that represents our faith; music that calls us to worship the one true, living God.

Recently, I looked into the life of hymnodist Reginald Heber (1783-1826), who was the second Bishop to represent the Church of England in Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata). Reginald was born the son of an Anglican rector, and it has been said that he was an incredibly gifted child. Some accounts of Reginald’s childhood even state that, by the age of 5, he had read the entire Bible and comprehended its meaning. Consider that for a moment.

Later in life, while attending Brasenose College, Mr. Heber proved to be a scholar of theology, Latin, Greek, and an exceptional poet. In 1807, Reginald was ordained and began his quest to improve the congregational singing taking place in the Church of England. His dream was to write and collect a group of hymns that would follow the liturgical calendar, thus moving the Anglican’s away from simply singing the Psalms. Of the known 14 hymns still in circulation today, none have crossed denominational lines like the timeless hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.

Written in India, in the year of Bishop Heber’s death at age 43, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty was heralded by Alfred Lord Tennyson as the finest hymn ever written. What moved Reginald to write it? No one knows the whole story behind this hymn, but its obvious reference to Scriptures found in both Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 are certainly the hymn’s foundation. In these verses of Scripture, as in the Bishop’s hymn, we read of a call to worship that is so overwhelming that the two author’s, Isaiah and John, can’t help but absorb the moment — like a dry, brittle, thin sponge that can’t get enough water and, once it does, just continues to expand and expand until it can hold no more and overflowing begins. Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD (Adonai) God, almighty (El Shaddai)! Let’s look at the word “holy” a bit more deeply to understand why the Creator, Elohim, is called by this title.

The word “holy,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as:
(adjective) dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; divine, sacred: the Holy Bible.
• (of a person) devoted to the service of God: saints and holy men.
• morally and spiritually excellent.

I want to point out the last statement in the above definition, “morally and spiritually excellent.” In other words, morally and spiritually perfect! When God is called “holy,” or “kaddosh” in the original Hebrew, He is being called perfect, flawless, pure. God is without blemish, without anything that is considered wrong, both morally and spiritually. You and I can’t even begin to fathom the depth of what this word “holy” means because we are a fallen race, so far from perfection. Yes, it is true that through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ we, as believers, are made holy (a.k.a. set apart, consecrated, sacred, purified, etc.), but to truly know holiness as God is holy — until we are truly in the presence of Elohim we will always fall short of just what “holy” is.

I’m amazed every time I read an article, blog, or book, or hear a song, or some statement where people pass judgment on God because of something they misread, or misunderstood in the Bible, or because of some tragedy that occurred in their life, or in history. As if somehow humanity affords enough holiness or self-righteousness to do so. It’s ridiculous enough that there are people in this world who believe they can somehow attain enough holiness, enough perfection, on their own merit to somehow achieve a place in heaven with God or even achieve godlike status, themselves, in the here after. But seriously, people — judgement of God!? Really!? What is it that makes humanity think we have the authority to judge the Creator of all things physical and spiritual? That is one of the greatest lies Lucifer ever passed off on mankind. Such foolishness!

Read these lyrics, penned by Bishop Reginald Heber, with me and let’s ponder them together; verses one and two are as follows:

Holy, holy, holy, LORD God, almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty; God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee; casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.
Cherubim and Seraphim, falling down before Thee, which were, and art, and evermore shalt be.

In these first two verses we see Bishop Heber painting a word picture, direct from Scripture, that depicts what should happen daily when physical creation acknowledges the holiness of its Creator. Depicting, plainly, what does happen and what will always happen when spiritual creation enters into the presence of the Masters, three-in-one — true worship!

I defy anyone to come close to understanding the pure holiness of God and not worship Him! I defy anyone to begin to grasp the awesome perfection of God, and the depth of our fallen state, and still choose to pass judgement upon Him, who IS! Read with me the final two verses of Reginald’s hymn:

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, though the eye of sinfulness Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy, LORD God, almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty; God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Here in these final two verses we see truth laid out in “plain English.” God, in His triune perfection, cannot be seen by us, in our imperfection. Our sin nature blinds us, prevents us from seeing and knowing El Hakkadosh — the Holy God! Why? Because sin separated us from God. Not because God pushed us away, but because the natural cause and affect of perfection and imperfection is that they cannot coexist. It’s just like light cannot coexist with darkness. The moment light hits darkness, the darkness flees. You see? The moment God’s holiness hits sin, the sin must flee. Imperfection can’t remain in the presence of perfection without consequence of death (Romans 5:12-21; 6:1-23).

Were it not for God’s merciful sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, we would never have the hope of returning to Him as the true worshipers He created us to be. Only the covering of Christ’s holy blood can remove the imperfection from our souls and allow us to return to the presence of El Hakkadosh. So stop ignoring the fault inside yourself, and begin the process of allowing God to deal with that fault. Cease trying to foolishly “shop around” for a version of God that fits what you think a god should be. God (Elohim) is LORD (Adonai), because He IS — despite what humanity wants to think.

Modern day Judaism isn’t the answer, and neither is the destructive teachings of Islam! The Mormon’s and the Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings of Christ and the triune God are nothing more than perversions of the truth! Also, don’t allow yourself to remain in the lie that you can somehow achieve perfection on your own. Sitting on a mountain top, all of your life, meditating does nothing for you except remove you from reality. It’s time western culture and the rest of the world woke up to the false philosophies of Buddhism and Hinduism! Lastly, evolution and atheism are probably the most ridiculous lie of all the lies spoken to humanity by Satan. The Creator, IS God, and always will be God whether you choose to believe in Him or not! What humanity thinks is not of importance, what God says IS — period! After all, when considering all the wonderful things God has created, what significance does mankind really hold? None, when separated from God.

Humanity’s significance, our glory and honor, comes only from achieving God’s original purpose; that purpose is to be true worshipers of the Holy God (El Hakkadosh). When we are able to see God as holy and ourselves as unholy, apart from Him, then we can begin to realize our significance and cease being foolish in believing we can pass judgment on God or “shop around” for a god of our own liking.

I’d like to leave you with this last reading from Psalm chapter 8. Meditate with me on verses 3-9, which states:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Ponder these verses. Reflect upon what is being said here, and begin to allow yourself to experience God as He really is — El Hakkadosh — The Holy One.

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty lyrics by Bishop Reginald Heber and music written by John B. Dykes. Public Domain. Copyright contingent upon arrangement and publishing company rights.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article IV, part 1



I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . . . Where!?” This is probably how most of us would respond to the concept of joy — with a question.

Imagine suffering through some great physical ailment, such as cancer, and being counseled with these words from James 1:2, “Count it pure joy, my brothers [or sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds.” You’d probably fight back the urge to slap someone by firing back with a great big “What!?” “Count this bone breaking, gut wrenching, painful curse as what!?” “Joy?” Or, imagine suffering through an unexpected divorce after twenty-plus years of what you thought was wedded bliss and hearing someone say these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always.” You’d probably exchange a cross-eyed glance for a moment, only to ask, “Be joyful when!? Now!?

We all realize that life is hard and that suffering is bound to catch up to each of us at some point. And some of us know that God wants us to experience joy in all aspects of our lives. So, why is it when suffering enters our lives do we not only question the suffering but also the idea of being joyful in the midst of it?

It has to do with our thoughts. We were incorrectly taught that bad things are meant for bad people and that good things happen to good people. And who can be more good than we Christians, right? After all, we are God’s adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-5), are we not? Well, let’s examine this ideal more closely.

What makes us believe or think that bad things happen to bad people? From an early age we were told stories and shown movies that depict the message that “crime doesn’t pay” or “good conquers evil.” In the Bible we read such verses as: “The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the people with justice” (Psalm 9:7-8). We also learn that our own laws here in America — based on the Ten Commandments, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights — will bring justice and will punish those who intend to do us harm. Yes, we learn these things, read such verses, and study such ideals, but who or what defines for us what is good and what is bad? The answer is: our Creator, the great “I Am” — God.

God defines evil and righteousness. To be evil is to take on the attributes and spirit of Satan (Galatians 5:19-21), but to be good is to take on the attributes and Spirit of Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Galatians 5:22-23). Is this not why we think of Christians as good people? Don’t we expect Christians to act as Christ would act? After all, doesn’t popular Christian culture teach us to always ask “WWJD” (what would Jesus do)? Why ask this question if we aren’t expected to act on it?

For American citizens, living within the boundaries of our laws determines if we are good citizens or bad citizens. And though it is true that we are counted as good citizens if we obey the law, and though it is true that we as Christians are expected to act as Christ did, there is another truth we must come to terms with, and that is, “There is no one righteous [good], not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us are good. Obey the law perfectly; we can’t. Be as righteous as Jesus; a daily struggle all Christians should aspire to accomplish, though not likely to happen.

So, why bother? Why care enough to try? Because even though we can’t be righteous on our own, Christ’s Spirit living in us can.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known to which the Law of the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:21-24)

Jesus’ Spirit in us gives us the strength to be good; to do good things (Philippians 4:13).

You have read that no one person is good; yet you see that we can be good with God’s help. You may even grasp the overall concept, but how does this truth answer our question from earlier regarding suffering and joy? In this way: we must stop thinking that “good” people won’t and shouldn’t suffer. None are good and life is hard. Just as Jesus suffered for living a righteous life, so too should we expect to suffer. Listen to the apostle Peter’s words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Did you catch that? Suffering in this life is not strange or abnormal, but very much the norm. And even better, if we rejoice in our participation (as hard as it will be, have the right attitude of worship — your choice, remember) then we can be overjoyed, totally thrilled beyond our wildest imagination, when God’s glory is revealed to us in heaven! Joy within suffering is our choice and a marvelous avenue to experiencing true worship and God’s glory. So, how do we do it? How do we choose to be “joyful in all things”? We must first realize what this principle of worship really is and what joy really means.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

(noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness: ‘tears of joy’/‘the joy of being alive.’ Also as (verb) [heart.] poetic/literary — rejoice: ‘I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain.’

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines “joy” as, “(noun) emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune: gladness or delight.” I find both of these definitions to be inadequate; well short of accurate. Allow me to explain why.

The definitions we just read are lacking, because they ascribe to joy the same attributions of happiness. Though these definitions define joy as both a noun and a verb, which it is, they really are ascribing no more depth to the word than if it were simply the word “happy” (an adjective). But happiness is really nothing more than an emotion. Something we occasionally experience, because it is fleeting. Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a “fruit” of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter 5 verse 22.

Nothing about God is temporary. “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1a); “In the beginning . . . was God” (John 1:1); “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). God and His characteristics always have been, are now, and always will be. Happiness is not one of the fruits of His Spirit, but joy — real joy — is! Real joy can never be temporal or fleeting because it is a source of power and strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). Joy, can only come from God’s love for us and our obedience to Him (John 15:9-11). And joy, everlasting joy, can only come from God’s forgiveness and our restoration to, and peace with, Him (Luke 15:8-32).

Best-selling author C.S. Lewis once said that “joy is never in our power and pleasure [or happiness] often is.” If it’s in our power, then it’s fallible, temporal, of us and not of God, and definitely not real joy. Only a facsimile befitting the simple definitions ascribed to it from any dictionary on any shelf. We must understand what joy really is. It is eternal, a source of power for us, an attribute direct from God our Creator, Himself. Let’s now look deeper into what joy means to us and how we can apply real joy to our everyday lives and our everyday worship.

In our next post, we will fully disclose what joy means, and will expose how to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship. Article 4, part two, will take the word “joy” and dissect it; cutting into what we said it is and looking around inside it — finding what lies at its core. To do this we will literally examine the word letter by letter, and when we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 2


In part one of Article 3, we began discussing our attitude of worship. We came to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires us to choose to prepare ourselves for and to choose to respond to God in worship.

We also disclosed the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) and examined, in depth, the first of the five — the order of confession. We continue now with the second order of worship.

Gathering is an order that acknowledges God’s love for us and His delight in our relationships (fellowship) with each other and with Him. After all, God created us to be in fellowship with Him and each other. We will discuss this more in Article 5 when we examine our purpose more deeply, but the truth is that God created us for fellowship. That’s why restoring our relationship to Him was so important after man sinned in the garden of Eden. In fact, God talked with the Hebrews 53 times regarding fellowship in four of the first five books of the Bible (Exodus-Deuteronomy). Fellowship is discussed 96 times total from Genesis to Revelation. God needs for us to understand that “it is not good for man[kind] to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a). John tells us in chapter 3 verse 16 that “God so loved [desired fellowship with] the world [mankind] that He gave [sacrificed] His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him [Jesus Christ] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s this sacrifice that Christ made on the cross that enables us to have real and lasting relationships with each other and, most important, with our Creator. John later wrote:
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. . . . If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:3,7)

Giving is a special order of our worship as it builds our relationships with both God and each other. It teaches us about God’s peace and patience by removing our focus from self to a focus of service or sacrifice. In Proverbs chapter 18 verse 16 we see that “a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” I really like the way that reads. No matter the gift we choose to give; if the attitude is right, God will allow us into His holy presence. Our giving gets us an audience with the Almighty! This has nothing to do with our works, mind you, but it has everything to do with our hearts. A willingness to give of ourselves. Do you recall Paul’s words to the Ephesians concerning being saved by grace through faith, so that no man can boast in himself (Ephesians 2:8-9)? In the same way, whatever we may have to give we should give graciously as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, as Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart [by the prompting of the Holy Spirit] to give, not reluctantly [with doubt] or under compulsion [out of guilt or pressure], for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 7 tells us, “In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” The psalmist wrote in Psalm 118, verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In God’s presence we receive true joy, and as we said before, giving is what ushers us into God’s presence. No matter what we set our minds to do, if we give of ourselves joyfully, give thanks in any circumstances, we can rejoice knowing we are doing God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). After all, He made all things with this purpose in mind. (We will go deeper into what God’s joy is and how we can both obtain it and give it in Article 4.)

The final order will reveal to us the godly attributes of faithfulness and self-control; this order of worship is studying God’s Word. These famous words of the psalmist teach us clearly:
How can a young man [or woman] keep his way pure? [Remember we are called to be holy.] By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 9-11)

Studying God’s Word, the Bible, gives us the ability to live the holy lives God intended, making us the true worshipers we were purposed to be. Self-control is the path to being found faithful, and self-control is obtained through studying the Bible. Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 18-21 remind us to “fix these words [of God’s] . . . in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home . . . so that your days and the days of your children may be many . . . as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

Now that we have looked over these five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying), let’s attempt to use them, as I said earlier, to prepare ourselves for worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body and in response to God in our worship. We do this in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Recall from Article 1 that we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. Why? Because true worship requires our whole selves, and we are a three-part being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Just as God is three parts in one (Father, Son, and Spirit) so too are we three parts in one — the physical, mental, and spiritual. Each part should be applied to the five orders of worship in some way. For example, we could physically and spiritually confess our sins (preparation for worship) and then physically and spiritually repent (respond to God in worship). Yet another example could be to mentally and physically plan to gather for worship (preparation) and then go (physically and mentally) engage in worship (response), and so on through the remaining orders of worship. Joshua was able to prepare for worship and respond to God in his worship in all the various aspects of his life, within this same manner: individually, corporately as a family, and corporately as a nation.

There were times when confession was needed, as in the story of Achan (Joshua 7), and so Israel prepared and responded accordingly. There were times when Joshua would gather the Israelites for corporate worship. In Joshua chapter 4 we read about the altar of remembrance built from twelve stones handpicked from the Jordan River to represent each one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see Joshua planned with Israel and both responded together. He led the Israelites in giving fellowship offerings in chapter 8 verses 30-35 of the book of Joshua; both preparations were made and responses given. Rejoicing also takes place in many of Joshua’s stories; for example in the story of Jericho’s destruction, rejoicing in God played a key part in the Israelites winning that battle (Joshua 6). In this instance the planning was from the “commander of the army of the Lord” and Joshua and the Israelites responded faithfully. Finally, with regard to study, Joshua served under Moses while in the desert. Moses taught him on every aspect of the law God has entrusted him with. When Moses died, Joshua received the stone copies of God’s Ten Commandments. With this information, Joshua took charge of not just leading Israel but teaching them. In chapter 5 of the book of Joshua, he taught concerning the rite of circumcision; in chapter 8 he taught concerning fellowship offerings, and lessons continue throughout all twenty-four chapters.

In closing, let’s note once more that a right attitude of worship is an understanding that it is 10 percent God’s call in our lives and 90 percent how we will respond to His call in our lives. Let us also recall that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship). Remember also the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) which help us prepare for and respond to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body. And review with me the three ways in which we should prepare for and respond to worship: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. These are a lot to consider; a lot to remember and apply, but oh so important to fulfilling God’s purpose in each of our lives.

Article 1 laid the foundation (example of a true worshiper); Article 2 set the cornerstone (the heart of worship); here we erected the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship). Now for the second — real joy!

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 1


In the last article we began our journey into understanding just what worship really is. We talked about how worship is defined both as a noun and a verb. How it is both something with physical properties as well as something we have to participate in.

We also laid out a formula that helps us to understand that the attributes of God and our acknowledgment of those attributes in our daily lives will produce the actions from us that equal worship toward God.

(attributes of God + acknowledgment and application of God’s attributes in us = worship)

We discussed how, although worship is but a single word, there are many words that help us understand what is at the “heart” of our worship; and we closed out our article by briefly touching on three particular words I called principles of worship: attitude, joy, and purpose. Over the next three articles we will break down each of these principles and study them more deeply, and I have chosen to begin our three-part discussion by focusing this article on our attitude of worship.

“Attitude” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

(noun) the arrangement of the parts of a body or figure (posture); a position assumed for a specific purpose (a threatening attitude); . . . a mental position with regard to a fact or state (a helpful attitude) — a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state; . . . an organismic state of readiness to respond in a characteristic way to a stimulus (as an object, concept, or situation); a negative or hostile state of mind —  a cool, cocky, defiant, or arrogant manner.

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines the word “attitude” as “(noun) a state of mind or feeling with regard to some matter.” That all makes sense — doesn’t it? Though both definitions are accurate and thorough, they leave me wondering what it was I just read. I end up asking myself, “How can I make sense of it?” I know a wonderful pastor and teacher who has just the right explanation.

Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, both best-selling author and the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, has a very fine and simple quote regarding attitude. It’s from his book entitled Strengthening Your Grip, and it reads in part as follows, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Simple and to the point. Did you grasp what he said?

Life is not made of circumstances. Life is made of choices. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your so-called “dead end” job. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your spouse’s infidelity. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your parents’ divorce. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your “ho-hum” life. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your best friend’s death. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to all of life’s “circumstances.” You! Not anyone else; no one. Just you. Not even the Almighty Himself can dictate that to you. It’s your choice to react with a negative attitude about a circumstance in your life or with a positive attitude. Now, let’s adapt that concept into our worship.

To have the right attitude of worship, we must choose to do so. True worshipers understand that it’s 10 percent God’s call in their lives and 90 percent how they will respond to His call. Joshua understood God’s calling in his life to replace Moses as the leader of Israel and to conquer the enemies living in the Promised Land, but it took Joshua’s choosing to allow God to fulfill that calling in him that made Joshua the true worshiper that he was. Paul wrote about our choice to accept God’s call on our lives. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2 verses 5-9, he admonishes the church to have a Christlike attitude. In Galatians 1:6, he was upset to find out that many Galatians were “so quickly deserting the One who called them by the grace of Christ.” Understand; we choose to either accept or reject God’s call in our lives to be true worshipers. As Joshua said, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). What a great attitude of worship!

Now that we comprehend what attitude means and that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject, we must realize that to have the right attitude for worship requires preparation. In understanding that we must make preparation for worship, we must also internalize that our preparation will require of us a response of worship. Let’s look back at our formula from the second article and expand it to include this concept: the physical attributes of God, and our preparing to acknowledge those attributes, followed by our acknowledgment of those attributes in our daily lives, will produce the actions or responses from us that equal true worship towards God.

(attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment and application of God’s attributes in us = true worship)

As we prepare ourselves for worship, and then to respond to God in our worship, we should understand just what is involved in this process. As we prepare to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body, there are five orders of worship that will help us acknowledge various attributes of God. These five are well-founded scripturally:

Confession (Proverbs 28:13; 2 Corinthians 9:12-13; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9)

Gathering (Zephaniah 2:1-3; Acts 1:14; Romans 15:30; 2 Timothy 1:8-9a)

Giving (Genesis 14:20b; Deuteronomy 15:10; Proverbs 21:26b; Matthew 10:8b)

Rejoicing (Deuteronomy 12:7; Psalms 34:1-3, 118:24; Zechariah 9:9a; Romans 5:1-2)

Studying (Deuteronomy 31:12; Psalm 119:7; Proverbs 1:5; Matthew 11:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

The order of confession points us to acknowledging God’s pure, sovereign, and holy nature; just as it also allows us to acknowledge our fallen state. We read in Habakkuk chapter 1 verse 13, “Your [God’s] eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” This indicates both God’s perfect goodness (purity) and our imperfect wickedness (evil). This is why sin separates us from a sovereign God. Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah chapter 32 verses 17-19 concerning God’s sovereignty:

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the father’s sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.

Sovereignty dictates who God will love, who God will punish, and it maintains His purpose and deeds; we don’t and can’t do these things because we are sinful (missing the mark). We either accept God’s sovereignty in our lives, His calling to be one with Him and to be more like Jesus Christ, or we reject it and remove ourselves from God. Peter reminded us in 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 15-16, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” If we do choose to be one with God and more like Jesus Christ, then we must live holy (set apart) lives.

We will discuss the other four of the five orders of worship in the next post, but let us recall from this blog that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship).

We have begun the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship); Article 3, part two, will complete it.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Strengthening Your Grip” © 1998 by Dr. Charles R. Swindoll

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the publication copyrighted 1998.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Word Publishing Group a division of Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article II, part 2


In part one of Article 2, we defined worship and began to look closer at two of three key attributes of God (His faithfulness and His hope) that produce the actions that equal worship, if we will choose to acknowledge them in our lives.

In this article we’ll begin with the third attribute — God is love.

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be, but for the sake of this blog let’s keep it simple. Let’s focus on the core definition of love and also its attributes. Love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Its attributes, listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10, are: patience, kindness, without envy, without pride, without rudeness, isn’t selfish, isn’t easily angered, forgets offenses, is righteous, truthful, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and is always faithful. These sound similar to the attributes ascribed to God in Galations 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control . . .” No wonder Paul revealed to us, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, that above all of God’s attributes the greatest is love. In fact, Scripture reveals that God, more than anything else ascribed to Him, is entirely, 100 percent love (1 John 4:16). So we could easily apply the definitions of love directly to God’s character and say God is a strong affection toward us, God is a strong desire toward us, God is a strong devotion to us, and this was revealed to mankind through the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. If we can truly grasp this truth and trust it (have faith in it), if we can truly have confidence in the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection (have hope in it), if we can truly live a life of love (have a strong affection, strong desire, strong devotion to God) then we can truly worship God in our daily lives.

(God’s love + acknowledging and applying God’s love = worship)

Joshua understood God’s love for the people of Israel and also grasped the concept of living a life of love for God Himself. Joshua spoke in Joshua 22:5, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Christ also taught this very same principle of worship in Matthew 22:37-38 when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Christ didn’t stop there either; Jesus followed up His statement on love by saying in verse 39, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” To truly live a life of worship, a life filled with God’s love, we must also love mankind as God loves mankind. Think on that. Caring for people is yet another act of worship, but we will look further into this attribute in Article 4.

So, how can we take these equations of worship and apply them to our lives? How can we grasp these truths and let them rule our hearts on a daily basis? Just as the Hebrews used special words to describe their heart for worship, we too can ascribe three key words or principles to help us focus on what is at the heart of being a true worshiper of God.

First, we must have a Christ-like attitude (Philippians 2:5-8), an overall attitude of worship. You see, an attitude of worship will both prepare us for worshiping God and set the stage for our response to God after we have begun worshiping Him. How can we have a right attitude? I’ll go into more detail in the third article, but basically we can create an attitude of worship in our daily lives by applying these five positive attitude principles:

– Rejoice in the Lord — always! (Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:4)

– Have a gentle spirit (Proverbs 15:1, 25:15; Ephesians 4:2-3)

– Replace worry with prayer (Psalm 4:1; Philippians 4:6-7)

– Keep a proper perspective/outlook on life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

– Apply what you have learned and live it (Ephesians 4:22-25; Philippians 4:8-9)

Second, we must have joy in our lives, and I mean real joy which must dominate our hearts (Psalm 51:10-12; Isaiah 12:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; James 1:2-4). Real joy can be defined as a celebration of faith (Psalm 16:11), a rejoicing in service, and being at peace. In the fourth article we will delve deeper into what joy really means to us and how we can achieve it in our lives, but we must now begin to understand the importance this principle will have in our daily worship experience (Psalm 19:8; Proverbs 10:28).

Our third principle: we must understand God’s purpose for our lives (Job 36:5; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 19:21). Why are we here? Why did God create us? We were created to be covered by God’s glory (Psalm 8:4-5), to reflect His righteousness (Proverbs 4:18; Romans 1:14-17), and to be in fellowship with our Creator (1 John 1:3-4). In other words, God purposed us to be holy (set apart) and to worship Him. Article 5 will explore God’s purpose for us in more detail, but we must realize now that God has revealed in His word a very definite purpose for mankind; a purpose of consecration and worship.

In closing, let’s realize that worship is more than just a song sung on Sunday morning. Let’s choose today to recall the three key attributes of God:

Faith

Hope

Love

Let’s choose to also remember to acknowledge these attributes of God in our lives so that we can begin the process of becoming true worshipers in all things. Let’s choose today to recall the three words or principles that will bring into light for each of us what should be at the heart of our daily worship:

Attitude

Joy

Purpose

Pastor and teacher Graham Truscott was absolutely correct when he said, “When God’s people begin to praise and worship Him using the biblical methods He gives, the power of His presence comes among His people in an even greater measure.” The biblical methods discussed above are together the cornerstone now set upon the foundation we laid in Article 1. Let’s move forward then, as we continue with building the temple of worship God desires in us.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.