Cultivate a Heart of Worship

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Psalm 95:6 (ESV)

Worship – to revere, venerate, praise, adore, exalt, glorify, extol, honor.

The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration; the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God

In the Greek, the word used for worship in the New Testament is often Proskuneó – to prostrate oneself, to fall down. It comes from two words, Pros meaning to move toward and Kuneó meaning to kiss. How might the definitions and an understanding of the Greek word provide you fresh insight on the following verses?

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:24
And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
Matthew 28:17

In the Hebrew, the word used for worship in the Old Testament is Shachah – to bow down, to prostrate oneself. The Scriptures are filled with worship, unfortunately often God’s people did not worship Him, but the gods and idols of other nations. But God promises that one day, all nations will worship Him and He calls the whole earth to worship Him now. Do you take the time during your week to answer this call?

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
Psalm 22:27
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9

Worshipping God is not merely confined to Sunday mornings in our church service—there are many ways to worship. In fact, everything we do, as we’re doing it in and for the Lord, can be a form of worship.

  • Music – singing (Psalm 66:4), playing instruments (Psalm 144:9), dancing (Psalm 149:3), hymns (Colossians 3:16)
  • Posture – bowing down (Genesis 24:26), lifting hands (Psalm 63:4), clapping hands (Psalm 47:1), kneeling (Psalm 95:6)
  • Art – creating (Exodus 35:31-33), whether painting, writing, woodworking, gardening, sculpting, etc
  • Prayer – listening to and talking to God (Psalm 32:6),
  • Study – God’s word, his statutes, commands, instructions, teachings, precepts, laws, testimonies, prophecies, and promises (Psalm 119)
  • Serve – ministry (Romans 14:18), meeting the needs of others (Matthew 25:40), working (Colossians 3:23), one another (1 Peter 4:10), giving (Deuteronomy 16:17)
  • Rest – Sabbath (Leviticus 19:13), rest (Psalm 116:7), quiet (Psalm 131:2), silence (Psalm 62:5), nature (Psalm 143:5)

I’m thankful that everything I do can be a form of worship to God. However, I’m often busy about whatever I’m doing and I forget to surrender my activities, to offer them up to God. My deeds, no matter what they are, can become something other than worship. In fact, they can become tedious and burdensome, a sort of counter-worship.

When this happens, I know its time for a heart check. And intentional, focused, worship provides the realignment the heart needs. Sometimes it’s listening to music, sometimes it’s sitting in the shade of the tree listening to the wind, sometimes it’s working on a devotional like this one, sometimes it’s reading the Psalms out loud.

A very simple and practical way to adjust my heart is to focus on God and not myself. I mentioned the Psalms—they’re a great place to turn my eyes on Him. There is also what I call the Adoration Alphabet and it can be done anytime, any place. Driving, walking, cleaning house, exercising, trying to fall asleep.

Start with the letter A and think of all the attributes, characteristics, qualities, actions, and nature of God that start with A. Discuss with Him what each one means to you. Then move on to B, then C, until you’ve either run out of time, fallen asleep, or realized that your eyes are now on Him and not yourself or your circumstances. Your heart has been readjusted and realigned.

I’ll help you start.

  • God, you are ABLE to realign my heart as I focus on you.
  • God, you BLESS me everyday with so many good things.
  • God, you CARE when my heart isn’t right with yours.
  • God, you DELIGHT in me and my worship.
  • God, you EQUIP me for whatever I may face each day.
  • God, you FREE me from the things that weigh me down.
  • God, you GUARD my heart so that I can worship you.
  • …continue on through the alphabet.

Now it’s your turn. Go and worship.

grace and peace

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Healthy eating: Tuna Pasta with Olives & Artichokes


  • 8 oz tuna steak, cut into 3 pieces or 1 12 oz can tuna
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 t freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 t chopped fresh rosemary 0r 1 t dried, divided
  • 1/2 t salt, divided
  • 1/4 t freshly ground pepper
  • 6 oz whole-wheat rotini or penne pasta or 1/2 spaghetti squash
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 c sliced olives
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 c fresh spinich, wilted
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh basil for garnish
  • 1/4 c shredded parmesan


  1. If grilling, preheat grill to medium-high. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. Toss tuna pieces in a bowl with 1 T oil, lemon zest, 1 t fresh rosemary (or 1/2 t dried), 1/4 t salt and pepper. Grill the tuna until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. When cool enough to handle, flake the tuna into bite-size pieces.
  3. If using canned tuna, drain and toss in a bowl with 1 T oil, lemon zest, 1 t fresh rosemary (or 1/2 t dried), 1/4 t salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Or microwave 1/2 spaghetti squash on a plate in 2 T water for 5-8 minutes until fork tender. When cool enough to handle, fork the squash into noodles.
  5. Heat the remaining 3 T oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add artichoke hearts, olives, garlic and the remaining rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down, about 3 minutes more. Wilt spinach in a separate pan and stir in with the noodles, tuna pieces, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 t salt; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with basil (or parsley) and parmesan, if desired.
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Cultivate a Heart of Listening

If you stop listening to instruction, my child,
    you will turn your back on knowledge.

Proverbs 19:27 (NLT)

Listen: hear, pay attention, be attentive, concentrate, take heed of, take notice of, be mindful, consider, meditate on, attend to 

  • Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might – Deuteronomy 6:4-5
  • Let the wise hear and increase in learning and the one who understands obtain guidance – Proverbs 1:5
  • Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord – Psalm 34:11
  • My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me – John 10:27

The Scriptures are filled with encouragement to listen, to hear, to allow the words of wisdom and instruction to sink in. To not only understand, but to respond. To do so, we need to have a heart ready to receive.

How often have we sat through a class, a lecture, a study, or even a conversation, but our mind wasn’t present, it was elsewhere? Or we’ve been listening to someone talk, listening to a podcast, or watching a program, only to realize we had checked out at some point and hadn’t heard anything since then? Maybe we’ve heard something a hundred times, a dozen times, or even once before and so we aren’t really listening when we hear it again?

Listening is a discipline. An ancient practice that takes work. Listening not just to hear or repeat facts, but to understand, to engage, to respond and apply.

No matter how complicated or simple one’s life might be, we still encounter obstacles to our listening. Big and small. Important or menial. Urgent or nonessential. They pull us from the art of slowing down and listening. Things like: Distractions. Media. Busyness. To do lists. Clutter. Worry. Interruptions. Needs. Obligations.

Our Creator, our Heavenly Father knew. And he provides a way. He’s given us the gift of Sabbath. A day of rest. To set aside our work and busyness. To get off the hamster wheel. To step out of the rat race. To stop defining ourselves by how many bricks we can make. And take a deep breath, slow down, recharge. And practice listening to his voice.

God also has given us feasts, festivals, seasons and times on the liturgical calendar to disrupt our everyday normal, to stop for a day, a week, or even a period of time, and seek Him a little bit deeper. The Lenten season is one of those times. As well as Passover week coming up soon. How might you use this season, this festival, to practice listening to the voice of Jesus?

Six times in the gospels and eight times in the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “he who has ears, let him hear.” We have ears. But do we hear? Have we taken time to learn the sound of our Shepherd’s voice, to know when it’s him speaking to us and know how to distinguish his voice from our own voice, the voices of the world, or the voice of the enemy?

Whether we’re a morning person or a night owl, it’s important for us to make time to be like Mary in Luke 10:38-42 and sit at the feet of Jesus. When we develop our listening muscles in those moments, we can then flex and use them throughout the day.

Some very practical exercises have helped me to listen better and they might help you as well. Spend some time exploring and then explore them again. Because listening is never a one and done. Just like one quick jog around the block is not all that’s needed for a healthy body, so too one quick lesson is not all that’s needed for a healthy spirit. We need daily exercise and daily practice to cultivate a heart of listening.

49 DAYS OF HEARING GOD: Daily emails full of practical tools to help you hear God’s voice.

THE DAILY STILL PODCAST: A Place to pause with guided Christian meditations and devotions.

SPEAK, LORD: A book exploring how to engage with the Psalms in a fresh, dynamic way—hearing them as though God were speaking directly to you. 

IGNATIAN PRAYER: A compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help you deepen your relationship with God. 

BRAINWAVE APP: Brainwave frequencies combined with background sounds or music to provide various modes of relaxation, focus, or creativity for a selected time period.

Pick one and try it out during this Season of Lent. I’d love to hear from you—drop me a comment and let me know which one you chose and how it changed the way you listen.

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Healthy eating: Cashew Chicken


  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1-1/4 c chicken broth
  • 2 T soy sauce or coconut aminos 
  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 T canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sm green and red pepper, julienned
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1-1/2 t grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 3/4 c salted cashews
  • cooked rice or cauliflower rice


  1. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, broth and soy sauce/coconut aminos until smooth; set aside. In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 2 T oil until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
  2. In the same skillet, stir-fry the mushrooms, green pepper, onions and ginger in remaining oil until green pepper is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, water chestnuts and cashews; heat through.
  3. Stir broth mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with rice/cauliflower rice.
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Cultivate Spring


The Vernal Equinox.

Vernal Equinox comes from the latin words for spring (ver), equal (aequi) and night (nox). It occurs in the month of March—usually around the 20th and 21st—when the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis reaches a particular position as the Earth circles the sun. From our perspective, it looks as though the sun makes a trek from the southern sky to the northern sky, and at the equator on this day, the sun is directly overhead at noon and gives equal twelve hours of day and night.

The arrival of Spring typically falls sometime within the period of Lent (since the earliest date that Resurrection Sunday/Easter can fall is March 22, it may actually mark the end of the Lenten Season—although this is a rare occurrence).

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. It marks the period of days starting on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Resurrection Sunday/Easter.

Lent comes from an old English word meaning lengthen, indicating the time of year when the days are becoming longer.

Spring. Lent. A time to cultivate.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it is a time to cultivate, to plant, and often the time of spring rains (Deuteronomy 11:14, Hosea 6:3, James 5:7).

There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens
…a time to plant…
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

With the passing of what we hope is our last freeze here in Central Texas, my husband and will tackle our yard: setting up and testing our sprinklers, raking fallen leaves from our live oaks, persimmons, and cedar elms, cutting back and mulching the butterfly garden, bringing our potted plants out to their warm season locations, and planting vegetables in our raised bed garden.

As I dig into the rich dirt and settle the tender plants into their new home, I can’t help but think about the virtues—the character qualities—that our Heavenly Father wants to cultivate in our hearts. Things like:

  1. a Heart of Listening – (Proverbs 19:27)
  2. a Heart of Worship – (Psalm 95:6)
  3. a Heart of Thanksgiving – (Psalm 116:17)
  4. a Heart of Faithfulness – (Psalm 36:5)
  5. a Heart of Wisdom – (James 1:5)
  6. a Heart of Repentance – (Psalm 51:17)
  7. a Heart of Forgiveness – (Matthew 6:14)

Over the next seven weeks, throughout Lent, Resurrection Sunday, and beyond, we will dig a bit deeper into these seven virtues and what it might mean to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate them in our hearts.

Grace and Peace

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