What Is Worship?

When believers come together we “worship.” In fact, generally we call the gathering a “worship service.” But do we really worship? I mean, really?

In most services I attend in every nation where I work we sing songs or choruses about God. We sing songs that encourage us to believe, to move forward, to stand strong. We sing about Him. But, if you watch the words for most songs – the real focus is you, me, us. So, that is not worship. It may move us and may help us feel good, but it is not worship.

Worship must be directed to God. It must be believers expressing their hearts about God to God. The audience of worship is One, God Himself. The songs or choruses must express our love for Him to Him.

But, even that is limited by how much we love Him. Do we love Him with our whole heart? Are we wholehearted about our commitment to follow Him regardless? Are we willing to obey Him with our whole heart? If we do not love Him with our whole heart then our worship is limited or simply nonexistent. 

Going even a little deeper… If we have not given our whole self to Him – our physical life, our emotional life, our hopes and dreams, our desires and plans, our friendships and family, our past, present and future – then we are really not fully worshipping Him. Maybe we are not worshipping Him at all. 

The writer of the book of Hebrews states what worship is:

Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (whole being) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In The Passion Translation this reads…

Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvellous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.

This is the correct biblical understanding of worship. This is the foundation of any and all worship that we might be involved in and that we offer up to Him. If we love Him with our whole heart and thus trust Him surrendering ourselves to Him totally we will then obey Him completely and instantly because He states “If you love Me you will obey Me.” Then we are positioned to worship Him from the center of our being with all that we are and all that we have – worship with and from our whole heart.

So, when we sing a song or two and get an emotional feel from it, we say that the “worship was anointed.” What does that mean? What is anointed worship? A feeling? A sense that your heart was touched? You entered into His presence (whatever that really means)? A knowing that you have, once again, encountered God? What does it mean to say that something is anointed? That worship is anointed?

How about we go back to the basics. How about we remove the huge business that worship songs and worship teams have become. A multi-billion dollar business worldwide, by the way. How about we boil it down to the biblical foundation. Worship, yes even anointed worship, is you surrendering yourself to God totally. That and that only “becomes your genuine expression of worship.” Nothing more, nothing less is genuine worship. 

The Purpose of Church?

Recently I had a leader that I work with in Western Canada ask me what the purpose of the Church is? Interesting question – a good question – from someone who is leading a local church and has attended church all of her life. She is looking for a way to revamp the way they do church. In other words, the way the weekly gathering flows – the various things that should go into the weekly “church service.”

The New Testament does not give us a template for a weekly church assembly. It seems that every local church – Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Rome, Jerusalem – functioned as they were led by the Holy Spirit. Most, of course met in private homes. A few used a local school or met outside. But, we are not given a lot of insight into what they did. And, the insight we do gain from the occasional verse is not a set pattern to follow. It is simply what that particular local church did. For example – in Jerusalem …

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

So some people will choose a verse like this and then design the whole weekly assembly with these elements prominent in the expression of the life of that church. 

The leader who asked the question was quoting a verse – expressing that this was the only verse they could find that expressed the purpose of the church assembly. You know the verse…

1 Corinthians 14:26 “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

Again, this was Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth. The format he was suggesting was as a result of the issues they were having when they gathered together – people living in immorality, drunkenness at the services, unruly behaviour. And, if we were to apply this verse and the seven verses following explaining how they would work in the service … then we must also apply the next verse

1 Corinthians 14:34 “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission…”

Remember now, the person who asked the question is a woman who leads a church. Whoops!

You simply cannot take a verse or two out of content and its environment (who it was written to, why, and when) and use it today to base a format on. Not good use of the Bible and not what the Lord meant for us to do. 

The only expressed purpose of the Church – every local church – is found in Ephesians 4:11-16:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Again, please note that there is no set pattern for the local church assembly or worship service to follow. But, the purpose of the local assembly is clear – leaders are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. 

Ministry is what happens out where believers live. So, they are to be equipped to minister to the lost so that they can be touched by the love of God and come to the foot of the cross and be saved. What goes on in the service or assembly is really “maintenance” as we are ministering to one another and taking care of those who are already sheep and part of the sheepfold. So, as we gather the purpose of the gathering is to equip the saints to reach the lost. This fits with the only call or mandate that the Lord gave the church… “Go into all the world and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19). 

And, we call the local assembly a “worship service!” So, really, is it? What is worship anyways? More on that next time. 

Begin with yourself…

In the crypts of Westminster Abbey, the following words were written on the tomb of an Anglican bishop who lived in the eleventh century:

“When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I are older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have even able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed my world.”

People who often experience relational difficulties are tempted to look at everyone but themselves to explain the problem. But we must always begin by examining ourselves and being willing to change whatever deficiencies we have. 

I am in my early seventies and am still continuing to grow and change. I realize that there is a lot that I don’t know or understand when it comes to healthy relationships. In fact, I am sure that there are many things that I need to learn about many aspects of life. Yes I am wiser than I was ten or twenty years ago. But, I have not arrived. No one ever does. And, if you have stopped changing and growing because you “have arrived” you are deceived; self-deceived but nonetheless deceived. So, I am still working hard daily at knowing myself and improving who I am and how I live and relate to others. It is a daily challenge.

Critic Samuel Johnson advised that “he who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he proposes to remove.”  

If you want to make a difference in your world, you must know yourself and then take responsibility for yourself. It is up to you who you become and what you accomplish in your life. 

A former mentor of mine writes: A few years ago when I travelled to New Zealand to do a conference, I stayed in a hotel in Christchurch. One evening I was thirsty and started looking for a Coke machine. When I couldn’t find one and I saw a door marked “Staff,” I figured I’d go in and see if anyone in there could help me. I didn’t find a hotel worker or a drink machine there, but I did observe something interesting. As I approached the door to go back out into the hall, I found that the door had a full-length mirror with the following words: ‘Take a good look at yourself. This is what the customer sees.’ The hotel’s management was reminding employees that to fulfill their purpose, they needed to take a look at themselves.”

And that is true for us too. Psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp believes “all the significant battles are waged within the self.” As we examine ourselves, we discover what those battles are. And then we have two choices. The first choice is to be like the man who visited his doctor and found out that he had serious health issues. When the doctor showed him his X-rays and suggested a painful and expensive surgery, the man asked, “Okay, but how much would you change to just touch up the X-rays?”

The second choice is to stop blaming others, look at ourselves, and do the hard work of resolving the issues that are causing us problems in life and in our relationships. If you want to have better relationships with others and a more fulfilling life, then stop, look in the mirror, and start working on yourself. 

Remember: Coping with difficult people is always a problem, especially if the difficult person happens to be you.

So, a question to ask yourself: Have I examined myself and taken responsibility for who I am?

Manitoba September 2019

Ralph will be ministering in Southern Manitoba from September 4th to 9th, 2019. 

Ralph regularly ministers in the Winkler – Morden area of the province where he is involved in a number of local ministries preaching and prophesying. As well, he meets with leaders building relationally as opportunity allow. He is mentoring several young men in the area and is also involved in a house church plant that is moving forward in the things of the Lord. 


Ralph is also honoured to be working with the leaders of an apostolic regional center that is impacting the lives of many young people in the surrounding geographical area. 


Ralph will be ministering in the nation of Vietnam from March 23rd to March 30th, 2020.

He will be the speaker at a conference in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. He will be laying apostolic foundations as he teaches on prophetic ministry and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As well, he will be covering the ministry of apostles and prophets in the Church today.

Jesus is building His Church in every nation and this will be the first time such a conference is being held in the nation of Vietnam. So, we will be laying a new foundation for the Church to move forward in the things of the Kingdom.

Your prayers and financial support for this new opportunity would be greatly appreciated.




In John’s Gospel we saw last week that Jesus was a safe person….

Someone whom people were drawn to
Someone whom people trusted
Someone who invited others into His life
Someone who listened and understood when others shared
Someone who accepted others regardless
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

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Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People

We want to continue speaking about relationships. We just finished a short series on the inner character traits of an unsafe person. Now let’s look at the the interpersonal traits of an unsafe person. In other words, the relational trends you will see when in relationship with an unsafe person. Personality traits (see the previous blogs) describe “who we are,” interpersonal traits describe “how we connect.” These interpersonal traits are about how people operate in relationships, how they move close or pull away, and how they build up or destroy.
1> Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting

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Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People – Part Eight

As we draw this series on the international traits of an unsafe person, let me remind you of the territory we have already covered:

1> Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting

2> Unsafe people are only concerned about “I” instead of “we”

3> Unsafe people resist freedom instead of encouraging it

4> Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us

5> Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us

6> Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals

7> Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent

8> Unsafe people are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one

9> Unsafe people gossip instead of keeping secrets

We all have experiences, thoughts, emotions, or behaviours that we don’t feel safe telling the world. We need someone in whom to confide. Some of us have secret sins that plague us. Others haver been victimized or abused. Still others simply need a person to tell our private stories to.

Few things are more bruising than having your secrets betrayed. If you have ever entrusted part of yourself to another, and then heard about it from a third party, you have been triangulated. Triangulation occurs when person A tells a secret to person B, who then tells person C about it. Triangulation is a form of what the Bible calls “gossip”. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).

Often, a triangulator will try to justify his untrustworthiness by different excuses, such as:

      • It just slipped out
      • It wasn’t that serious. You’re overreacting
      • It was for your own good
      • They made me tell

But just as often the truth has more to do with the unsafe person. He was unable to confront people directly, so he does it behind their backs. He may feel insignificant, so gossip give him the sense that he is important and on the “inside track.” He may be pitting one person against another in a repetitive pattern from childhood. Or he may simply lack a sense of empathy for the terrible pain that gossip brings to others.

No matter what, this is nothing but destructive. We all need a place for our secrets to be held and respected. Secrets don’t get well without relationship. We are all looking for safe relationships where someone knows all of our parts. So, when you divulge a private matter with another, it’s a big deal. You are taking a risk with an important part of your soul. And when confidence is broken, so is trust, hope, and healing.

Not only this, but also relationships can be torn apart between friends. Persons A and C can be alienated by the triangulator. This is what people mean when they say, “She came between us.” A triangulator has been at work. 

A safe person will hold confidences. He will not use your secrets for his own needs. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

The eighteeth-century English preacher George Whitefield is a good example of a safe person. With John Wesley, Whitefield was one of the founders of the Methodist Church. Yet he disagreed heartily with Wesley’s theology, and the two men were well known for their differences.

One day a reporter asked Whitefield, “Reverend, do you think you will see John Wesley in heaven?” This question was an invitation to triangulation between two opponents.

“No, I do not,” replied Whitefield.

“Why is that?” Asked a surprised reporter.

Whitefield answers, “Because I believe that John Wesley will be so close to the bosom of God that we will not be able to see him for the surrounding glory.” 

George Whitefield would not attack a person who was not there to defend himself. Look for people who can hold your secrets. They would be a safe person for you. 

Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People – Part Seven

We are looking at the interpersonal traits of unsafe people. So far we have seen:

1> Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting

2> Unsafe people are only concerned about “I” instead of “we”

3> Unsafe people resist freedom instead of encouraging it

4> Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us

5> Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us

6> Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals

7> Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent

8> Unsafe people are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one

When a person has such an influence on you and your life that you are becoming more and more like them – this person is an unsafe person. When having a relationship with this person means other healthy relationships you are in are neglected and even suffer then this person is unsafe. 

Safety breeds safety. And safe people make us better people for being around them. This is Jesus’ “fruit test”: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” (Luke 6:43). We cannot fail to be influenced, for better or worse, by the people in whom we invest. It will always show: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). And good company builds up our hearts and releases us to build other relationships as well.

An unsafe person may make you feel good – yet wound you emotionally. She may make you act better, but hurt your character. And you may think you’re being treated well, but she may be hindering your growth. Fruit is about character issues – not symptoms. 

The woman who is swept off her feet by an insincere charmer is a good example of this. She feels wonderful: loved, pursued, intoxicated by the attentiveness and flattery of the charmer. Her infatuation may make her more caring for her friends, more patient and forgiving. Her cup feels so full that she can give more.

But the reality is that while she feels and acts better, she is in the middle of a fantasy that will someday come crashing down around her. She is not being prepared for a real relationship, in which you deal with the imperfections of yourself and the other person. So she falls very hard, and sometimes she can’t trust again for a long time. 

Safe people are not perfect, but they help us progress toward Christlike character in the four major areas of spiritual growth. Ask yourself these questions about the people with whom you relate.

As a result of spending time with this person, am I

        • more loving or more detached?
        • more honest or more compliant?
        • more forgiving or more idealistic?
        • more mature or more childish?

Deciding whether a relationship is good for you will take time and some long, hard, coldly objective analysis. And it will probably take a friend’s detached eye. But look at your relationships over the long haul, and judge them for how they have changed your life – for better or worse.

Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People – Part Six

7> Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent

Are you the romantic / naive type? If so, you’re particular vulnerable to unsafe people because you tend to trust people immediately instead of putting them through the test of time. As cliched as it may sound, time is indeed the best judge of character.

Who we are and what we do are very, very related. Character cannot be completely hidden over a lifetime; it leaks out sooner or later. As Jesus said, “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:3). So hiding and pretending aren’t ever going to pay off for us.

And time tends to prove out the truth. As time passes, spouses, for example, learn the truth about each other’s ability to love, to listen, to be responsible, and to forgive. No matter what one says, the other one has years of memories that will either confirm or deny that person’s words.

Those who are not safe are those who are “relational sprinters” as compared to a “marathoner.” A sprinter is there for you if you are there. But, out of sight is out of mind. So, he may promise something and then never come through with what he promised. This trait makes the person unsafe with friends and family. You cannot depend on him. He commits and commits and commits – but he does not come through. If you ask him to return the lawnmower he borrowed last week, don’t block out your mowing hours on your schedule anytime soon.

He is not a bad person, nor is he insincere. But he loves the intense warmth of being close to a person in the here-and-now. It gets somewhat addictive to him, and he can’t delay gratification to help a person who isn’t around, when another, in-the-flesh person is available. And so he routinely disappoints himself and his friends. He flunks the time test. 

Safety isn’t like that. People who pass the test of time are “timeless” people. They guard your trust as if it were money in the bank. They are stable and reliable in their emotional commitments.

That’s why time-friendly people tend to make fewer emotional commitments than an unsafe person. They have a profound understanding of how much time it takes to be there for someone, so they think, deliberate, and pray long and hard before they decide to invest in a relationship. You might think they are aloof or uncaring. They’re not. They are, instead, unwilling to write bad cheques, emotionally speaking.

Look for people who are “anchored” over time. Don’t go for flashy, intense, addictive types. A Ford that will be there tomorrow is a lot better than a Maserati that might be gone. There are stable Maseratis. But it’s best to drive them awhile, that is, test out the relationship over time, to make sure.

Here are some traits to look for in your relationships:

      • Are they living up to their commitments to me?
      • Are they here for me only when I’m here?
      • Do they tell me no when they don’t have time?
      • Do they make promises they can’t keep?
      • Am I the last or most recent in a string of broken relationships?
      • Do others warn me about their pattern of relating?

Love is abiding, timeless, and unchanging, just like its Author. Find people who love you, and love you well over time, like He does: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).