Part 1

Heaven Is For Real (Header)

Heaven Is For Real “Is there life after death? Just ask 4-year-old Colton, who emerged from life-threatening surgery with astounding details about heaven! Colton’s account includes floating away, Heaven Is For Real (Book) looking down on his dad praying in the hospital, seeing God’s throne, and meeting relatives — including his sister who died in a miscarriage (and whom his parents had never mentioned). Riveting!”

This is the product description for the Thomas Nelson publication that became a New York Times #1 best seller. Since its release in 2010, Heaven Is For Real has captivated the hearts and minds of literally thousands of people. And now, there’s the 2014 release of the movie by Sony/TriStar Pictures.

According to the publisher, the book tells the true life story of when Colton Burpo survived an emergency appendectomy. Apparently his appendix had ruptured in his body and was poisoning his system. Colton’s family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival, but they weren’t expecting the story that would emerge in the months to come. For Colton’s story — as beautiful as it was extraordinary — would detail his trip to heaven and back.

You see, the soon to be four year old Colton, began telling his parents that he left his body during surgery — and gave proof by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital during his operation. He also talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life. Colton shared events that even happened before he was born. He continued to astound his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that appeared to match the Holy Bible exactly, though he couldn’t even read yet.

With persuasive simplicity and the purity of a child, Colton talked of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus Christ, the angels, how “really, really big” God is, and how much God loves humanity. Colton’s story is retold, in the book, by his father (Rev. Todd Burpo) but the wording is uniquely simple to match those of a very young child. Heaven Is for Real, both the book and the movie, offers a glimpse of the world that awaits believers. A world where Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

Whether you read the book or see the film, Heaven Is for Real is said to forever change the way you think of eternity, as the story offers humanity the chance to see, and believe, like a child. I’ve not yet read the book, but I have seen the movie, and I was moved in an entirely different way.

Maybe it’s because I’m already a believer that I was not astounded by Colton’s details of heaven. As the publisher of the book indicated, nothing was disclosed (at least in the film) that could not be supported in Scripture. I realize that there are many theologians, both prominent and otherwise, who have debated the truthfulness of this father’s retelling of his son’s experience. Again, I have not yet read the book so I will not enter into that debate. No; what astounded me most about this story was that it consisted of so many “believers” (pastors and lay-persons, alike) who had to “see,” and “hear” Colton’s evidence for heaven to know that it is real.

Worship 36 What is the point of having faith in Jesus Christ — of calling ourselves Christian (someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ) — if we are not going to believe the very words of Christ regarding heaven or any other topic? Note these Scriptures, which are the very words of God’s begotten Son:

– Matthew 7:13-14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

– John 14:2-3 — “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Colossian church: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

And don’t forget the words of the beloved Apostle John: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Revelation 7:13-17)

John the beloved, also known as “The Revelator,” went on to pen these words about heaven: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place.’ [Jesus then said] ‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’” (Revelation 22:3-7)

clouds 6 If our hope is in Jesus Christ, then what is the result of our hope? Why must Jesus even be our hope? God’s begotten Son must be our hope, because humanity is depraved and lost in self worship. This self-worshiping nature has doomed us to an eternal separation from our holy Creator. People are too selfish to even begin to know how to purify themselves and over come their evil essence, known as sin. It required the perfection of a true worshiper to over come the imperfections of humanity’s self-worshiping nature. That pure and perfect worshiper of God is His very own begotten Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to willingly lower Himself to the essence of a self-worshiping human, while all the while not participating in self worship. Christ had to live as one of us, and experience all of our hurts, temptations, and pains, and remain a true worshiper of God to become a pure and perfect blood sacrifice capable of cleaning up all of humanity’s sins. Jesus did this, and the result was our restoration to God the Father, by faith in Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Philippians 2:5-11).

But it didn’t stop there, Jesus also conquered death by rising from the grave. So not only can mankind be forgiven every selfish wrong, but humanity can embrace the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Again, as Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2b) Anyone claiming to be a Christian, especially those in the pulpits and serving as lay-persons, should be full aware of the reality of heaven, and even hell for that matter. Again let’s read the words of the Apostle Paul, this time to the Corinthian church:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For He ‘has put everything under his feet.’” (1 Corinthians 15:1-27)

Did you get that? If we truly believe that Christ is our hope beyond the grave, but do not truly believe in heaven, then we are to be pitied more so than any other religious group. Why? Because, if heaven isn’t real, then neither is Christ’s resurrection. And if the resurrection of the dead isn’t real, then we are still condemned as self-worshipers. Humanity is still lost and depraved.

Empty Tomb 1 Oh, but Christ did physically live! Jesus did physically die, and return from the grave! All praise be to our benevolent Creator, that our faith in Christ does give us hope! For our loving and merciful God made Jesus Christ to be our way to forgiveness and our way to eternal life. As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Don’t get caught up in the need for evidence, when it comes to our faith. The evidence that does exist — the evidence that does substantiate our Christian claims regarding Christ, or heaven, or anything else disclosed in the holy Scriptures — should not be the cause of our faith, but simply an edification of our belief. The “punctuation” at the end of our “sentence,” and not the “subject” of the “sentence,” itself. As the author of the book of Hebrews stated, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is believing without seeing, and not believing because you have seen.

In part two of this special commentary on true faith, we will conclude with an understanding of what real faith should look like in the everyday life of a person claiming to be a Christian — one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, God’s begotten Son.

Heaven Is For Real 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.

Heaven Is For Real” © 2010 by Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book’s press release appears curtesy of Thomas Nelson, Inc. and Christianbook.Com.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by 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.

Movie trailer made available by Jason Ministries, and Sony/TriStar Pictures; Copyright © 2014

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.

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Article 6

When I was seventeen years old, I surrendered to God’s calling on my life to become a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I immediately began pursuing my calling, by leading music for various worship services and camp meetings. Occasionally, I would even perform vocal concerts for a variety of Christian focused youth events, but it wasn’t long before I felt God tugging again at my spirit. Leading me to believe He had more in store for me — something broader than my scope was able to see then. Shortly, thereafter, The Joshua Project began to dominate my every thought.

The Joshua Project, from inception, has always been about true worship. For only true worship could move the various Christian denominations out of their misunderstood practices and into the very presence of El Hakkadosh (The Holy God), El Shaddai (The God Who IS Enough), Adonai (The Lords and Masters), Jehovah (I AM The One Who IS), Yahweh (The Self-Existing One), Elohim — Devine Creator! One thing kept me from seeing this come to fruition, though, and that was my own lack of understanding.

God has had me on a journey. A journey that now, after twenty-nine years, I am just realizing I will never finish until I see Jesus, face-to-face. I also realize that what God has given me knowledge of, where true worship is concerned, I must begin sharing with the masses. Because to wait until my heart and mind know all there is to know about true worship is to have waited too long. So my blogging began, and The Joshua Project entered into the public eye for the first time in 2010.

If you have read my blog posts, I trust you have grown to understand that true worship is your ultimate goal. The very reason God created you and all that is around you. If you haven’t yet read The Joshua Project, then allow me to encourage you to do so. Until all of humanity realizes why God has created them, and until all of us who are called by His name understand just how to become a true worshiper, there can never be a resolve to our most common and central issue — our need to be restored to God.

In the second article of The Joshua Project, we began looking into what worship really was and we came to realize that the word “worship” was both a noun and a verb; an object and an action. Upon looking further into the word “worship” I presented a formula for applying the true essence of worship into our daily lives. The formula was revisited throughout that series on true worship and I also applied it to our current study of knowing God’s names, in the very first article.

The formula is based on the understanding of God’s three most essential attributes:

God is faithful
God is hope
God is love

A proper understanding of these three attributes of God, and our acknowledgment of those attributes in our lives, will produce the actions that equal true worship.

You see, it’s when we grow to know God that His sovereignty and holiness are revealed. Once revealed, we can see our short comings, our sins, in light of God’s perfection and come to understand our need for restoration to God through a relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. When all of these things come together, true worship begins to happen. That is why at the beginning of this series on knowing God’s names I posted this version of the above formula:

(Knowing God’s names + learning and understanding the meanings of God’s names = worship)

It is essential for us to know God. To know not only God’s attributes, but the very names that invoke those attributes into our lives. We will focus the remainder of this article on the greatest of all of God’s attributes — love.

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be. The Hebrews had two main words for love, “ahavah” and “chesed.” Ahavah was used when defining love on a human level, such as between a man and woman, or a parent and child. Chesed was used when defining love on a higher plain; a covenant love, such as between a sovereign and subjects.

The Greeks translated “chesed” as “agape,” which in English is translated as “loving-kindness” or “steadfast-love.” The attributes of this higher love are listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10: 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 attributes of love are seen as part of God’s character throughout Scripture, especially in Galations 5:22-23 when the Apostle Paul lists the fruit of God’s Spirit, “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. The Apostle John discussed this in detail, in the fourth chapter of his first letter.

So let’s simplify this all important attribute of God, as we did in the second article of The Joshua Project. Not because godly love is some how trivial — No! Because it is so very crucial to our growing into the true worshipers of the Almighty. We need to be able to ingest this information and apply it to our every day lives. Having said this, understand with me that love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Knowing this, we can now apply this definition 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. This was revealed to humanity 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.

(Knowing God IS love + acknowledging that God IS love and applying His love in our lives = worship)

I’ll close with this excerpt from chapter four of 1 John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love . . . If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Remember, it is essential for humanity to know God; to be restored to God. Come, and let’s get to know Chesed, Agape — Love!

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.

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/.

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 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 1



What is the definition of worship? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines worship as:

(noun) reverence, homage or honor paid to God // ceremonies or services expressing such reverence; public worship // an utterly devoted admiration for a person; ‘Your (His) worship’ (esp. Br.) a courtesy title used to (or of) certain magistrates, officials, etc.

By defining worship as a noun (person, place, thing, or idea), Webster is indicating that the word has physical properties, parameters, substance — belonging.

But the word “worship” can also be defined another way. In the Life Application Study Bible (NIV) the word is defined as “(verb) to express praise and devotion.” So this definition reveals activity . . . involvement . . . choices being made.

So, which is it? Is worship something physical, tangible, and full of substance, or is worship an activity; something we choose to participate in, such as singing songs on Sunday mornings? Worship actually is both; the blending of two definitions — the noun and the verb. The best example of this mixture of two definitions is in the Hebrews’ view of worship.

In the book Called To Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call, by Vernon M. Whaley, we read that the Hebrew word used for worship is shachah, which means “to kneel, bow, prostrate yourself, or throw yourself down in reverence.” But there are four other very closely related words that Mr. Whaley says broaden the Hebrew description of worship; words that reveal the heart of their worship. These four words are: shabach, “to shout out to the Lord”; yadah, “to worship with raised hands”; tehillah, “to sing impromptu, spontaneous songs of praise”; and halal, “to celebrate God foolishly and boast about His attributes” of faithfulness, goodness, love, mercy, etc. (see Galatians 5:22-23). Can you see the blending of the noun and the verb? It’s a formula, really — a formula that requires the attributes of God and our acknowledgment and application of those attributes to produce the actions that equal worship.

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

A closer look at three key attributes of God should help you understand.

First, God is faithful. How do we know this? By studying Scripture and developing a relationship with God which allows Him the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness over time to us. Consider the following verses: Deuteronomy 7:9 reads, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” Psalm 37:27-28 says, “Turn from evil and do good . . . for the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones.” Lamentations 3:22-23 states, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” And we also read in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” By knowing God’s faithfulness, and acknowledging His faithfulness to us, we ourselves can then be true worshipers of God through our faithfulness to Him.

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

Grasp with me that faith is not only being loyal to God, but it also requires a complete trust in God. Joshua understood this. As a Hebrew, Joshua defined faith as a complete truth and trust. If you know something is true, you can easily trust it with your whole self. You practice this every time you sit in a chair or walk through a building with multiple floors. You blindly trust that the chair will hold you; that the building won’t collapse on you. Joshua simply practiced this same principle of worship in his relationship with God. How else could he have led such a rag-tag nation into a new land filled with so many ominous situations and formidable opponents and do so without fear or hesitation?

Second, God is hope. Hope can be defined as desiring something with a confident expectation of its fulfillment. In Psalm 62:5-6 we read, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Proverbs 13:12 reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Isaiah 40:31 famously says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Romans 5:1-5 states:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

Also, we read in Hebrews 6:16-19 that:

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

If we desire a relationship with God and confidently expect that relationship to be realized through Christ, then God will fulfill that desire in us.

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

Joshua so desired a relationship with God and pursued that relationship with such vigor that he not only hoped in the idea of living in the ever elusive Promised Land but knew without any doubt that God would give it to him and the Israelites, as promised to Moses so many years earlier (Exodus 3:17). This is the same type of hope that we just examined and that Paul mentioned in Romans chapter 5 verses 2 and 5. The writer of Hebrews also wrote regarding this hope in chapter 11, verse 1, “Now faith [in Christ] is being sure of what we hope for [eternal life] and certain of what we do not see [God and the hereafter].” As Eliza E. Hewitt so perfectly penned in 1898, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Such wonderful words; they reveal our hope and our worship as a result of that hope being realized.

In our next post we will continue with building the temple of worship God desires in us as we study the third key attribute of God — His love.

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 http://jsnmin.org/.

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.

Called To Worship” © 2009 by Vernon M. Whaley

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 2009.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by 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.

When We All Get to Heaven” by Eliza E. Hewitt, pub.1898, 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.