Raw Emotions In Worship

When someone was out to get David, he turned to God in prayer. And what prayers he prayed! 

He didn’t hold back. He came to God with all of his emotions right out in the open. Raw—but honest—emotions. 

God called David a man after His own heart, so apparently God loved the honesty even when David asked God to break their arms, turn them into jackal food, burn them with fire, give them black eyes, or even blot their names out of God’s book of life (Psalm 10:15; 63:9-10; 68:1-2; 69:22-28)!

Why do we hesitate to express ourselves like this, to tell God what’s really in our hearts? Do we think He doesn’t know? Do we think He’s going to fall off His throne in shock at our brutal honesty? He already knows what’s in our hearts, so the expression of it is for our benefit. We must get it out in His presence because that’s the only way and the only place where true, deep, lasting healing can happen. 

I love what R.T. Kendall reminds us: “Real worship takes place when we are unafraid to express what we feel. Worship ought to bring us to the point where we can be honest. We never need to repress what we feel when we are around Jesus. He will never scold us for our honesty. It doesn’t mean we are right, but if we are being honest, He can help us and bring us to see where we are wrong and to face the truth.” (emphasis mine)

When you hurt, get alone with God and then get real with God. He already knows what’s in your heart, so speak it out. You need to get that poison out of your system so that God can heal you.

Enter The Pulpit Without Embarrassment

A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer

“I am afraid of the pastor that is another man when he enters the pulpit from what he was before. Reverend, you should never think a thought or do a deed or be caught in any situation that you couldn’t carry into the pulpit with you without embarrassment. You should never have to be a different man or get a new voice and a new sense of solemnity when you enter the pulpit. You should be able to enter the pulpit with the same spirit and the same sense of reverence that you had just before when you were talking to someone about the common affairs of life.” —A.W. Tozer

My dear fellow pastor, our congregations want a pastor-shepherd who is authentic, not plastic. One who is real and approachable, not high-and-mighty. One who is a tour guide on the journey with them, not a travel agent that stays behind. One who is the same in the pulpit, in the restaurant, on the ball field, in the “unguarded” moments.

Be Real


Masks just for fun

A quick show of hands: how many of you like a phony? Uh-huh, I didn’t think I’d see any hands raised on that one. We may like to see our favorite actor/actress play a convincing role on stage or on screen, but when it comes to real people we interact with on a daily basis, we want the real deal.

Sadly, the people who have the most “realness” to offer often go about it in a phony way. I’ve observed way too many people who claim to be followers of Christ put their masks on:

  • They put on their laughing mask when their coworkers are telling crude jokes. Then switch to their disgusted mask when they tell their church friends how vulgar their coworkers are.
  • They put on their silent mask when someone talks about how they don’t really believe in God. Then they switch to their wise counselor mask when they tell someone else what they should have said.
  • They put on their fake smile mask when someone asks what they think of the boss’s announcement about possible layoffs. Then they put on their pray-for-me mask when they ask someone in church to intercede for them about their future.


Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

Be real. Always. In all circumstances. Masks are for parties. Realness is for people’s souls.

A Silly Dream World Or The Real Deal?

“What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’? If real is what you can feel, smell, taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. … Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” —“Morpheus” in The Matrix

We are created in God’s image. God is eternal and unrestricted, yet we are contained in finite bodies and constrained to the time-space dimension of our universe. That hardly seems “real.” Yet our souls—the “real” part of us—were made to be timeless and unbound. It seems like a dream, and yet sounds real.

To help humanity navigate the dream-real state in which we find ourselves, God gave us incredible insights into His Word: the Bible. The answers to our dream-real questions are there if we’re willing to search for them.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “What we see when we think we are looking into the depths of Scripture may sometimes be only the reflection of our own silly faces.” The Apostle James talks about God’s Word as a mirror in his letter to the church (1:22-25). In this, I see three people.

(1) One who never looks in the mirror; one who simply accepts what’s presented to him. Again “Morpheus” comes close: “You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.” James says this is a man who attends church regularly, but never applies what he hears. In fact, he probably never even hears anything other than what he thinks the pastor said. That man is silly, shallow, and stunted in his spiritual growth (if there is even any growth at all!).

(2) One who looks in the mirror but doesn’t do anything about what he sees. He hears the Word of God at church and perhaps even reads his Bible often at home; he knows all the stories and how everything should be. But he, too, never makes any changes in his spiritual “appearance.” He is content with where he is. If he ever feels the pull of desire that there could be more real to his dream-real world, he quickly explains it away. He is at the same spiritual maturity level today as he was years ago.

(3) One who looks into the mirror, recognizes that he is silly-looking, and then does something about it. It’s hard work and often this man feels like he’s not growing because he continues to see his silly face reflected back to him. As Albert Einstein noted, “As a sphere of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it.”

James says only this third man has been freed from his dream-real constraints and is called blessed by God. Only he is beginning to understand how to make the dream real.

In which category are you? Are you brave enough to look into the depths of God’s Word and see your silly face? Are you willing to make the changes the Bible shows you to free your soul?

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