When I Worship—God Smiles and I am Warmed

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalms 147:11). For the LORD takes delight in his people (Psalms 149;4).

gary portraitOver a lifetime I’ve met countless people from diverse nations. At any given time throughout my walk many of them have joined with me under the canopy of community.

As I think how that community has fluctuated with its ebb and flow there is a special group that comes to mind. It is a cluster of lifers who have walked with Jesus for enough years that his traits shine through their expressions.

All harshness has vanished. Warmth, twinkling eyes, insightfully appropriate smiles and a dash of humor combine to make up their presence.

smiles9When I interface with these people I recognize Jesus and catch a glimpse of Father God.

There are occasions when the combined orchestration of a worship assembly has connected me to such an image of God. Unfortunately, not every time when I enter a public worship does the ideal picture come to mind. Most likely, I failed to properly prepare my heart.

Here is what I think.

What if during the worship of the church I would envision God as the ultimate image of the Good Father. He is absolutely dependable. He is Just and above all He is Holy Love. He delights with His children.

smile14Some of my fondest dad and mom memories flow from their presence in their recliners.

When children or grandchildren were in the room the presence of others brought delight.

They didn’t have to be  vocal participants in all that was going on around them. Their delight was evident by their demeanor.

Warmth, a twinkle from their eyes, an insightfully appropriate smile and a dash of humor from time to time stood witness to their delight. The room was warmed.
That is an image I need to bring with me into the Throne room when I assemble with believers to worship.

smile11One brings a song and another brings a need. Someone reads from Scripture and another leads the assembled in prayer. An exhortation is brought to the believers. Encouragement trickles and flows from fellow disciples. Children animate. AND God smiles.

I am often impacted with the words of Psalm 103:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love . . . he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust . . . But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

How could I leave an assembly of the Saints without warmth flowing from my soul to the bottom of my feet and knowing I made God smile?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: When I Worship—God Smiles and I am Warmed.


Both AND Worship

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?

gary portraitThank you for allowing me to reflect along with you as 2018 begins. I pray it will be a year where as I write and as we all engage we will grow more in the image of God and His Son.

Recently, I’ve began to wonder anew about worship—mostly in context of the assembly. Over a lifetime I’ve heard that since worship is to be directed toward God I shouldn’t be all that concerned when I depart from a worship service with an empty tank. After all worship is not for me.

bothAND5But is my former assumption right? Perhaps it is not selfish to expect to gain personal benefit from worship? Maybe as a community who gathers in joint worship of the Holy, we should also tune in on each other with greater expectation.

Why not expect connection to the Holy so that each of our spirits will be recharged to power our walk?

Just maybe—worship is not only for God but ALSO for me. Perhaps it matters that the worship experience is conducive for me to give worship that in the act of giving—by the designed nature of worship—God gifts me?

BothAND1Surely, God aches each time I assembly with the body to worship and leave with my spirit tank on empty. I suspect that happens because my gift was not given from the best I had to offer.

Is not the gift of worship to Father and Son a reciprocal act?

Paul the apostle recalled a lesson he had learned for Jesus. It seems to me it has application to the worship experience:

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).

Is it possible by my gift of worship to Creator God, I actually receive the greater present?

Is worship for God or for me? Is it plausible that it is a “Both AND” experience? Is it conceivable the act of worship is for God AND for me?

bothAND7Is it thinkable that in the presence of the body I am able to connect with God in a manner that is unique to the worship assembly?

Is it possible that in the very act of worship I not only connect with the Holy and those in the room but in addition I connect to every believer—past and present—who forms the body of Christ?

As I begin 2018 I want to examine what I’ve been taught, what I have taken for granted, and what I believe about worship. It may be more about me than I’ve previously consider.

After all, there is a sense that each of us are God’s projects as He give us every opportunity along life’s walk to let Him shape us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Maybe that is what worship is all about.

I invite you to read over my shoulder over the next twelve posts as I attempt to gain clarity in my own mind on the question, “Is worship for God, for me, or is it for the both of us?

I would love to read your insights into this vital question. Do feel free to share with me your thoughts and experience.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Both AND Worship.




I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguarujaI just returned from a long-awaited cousins reunion.

What a wonderful gathering of diverse people. Nine cousins with their families, an aunt and an uncle brought joy and warmth to the room. And to think, everyone is a member of my extended family.

In the presence of four generations we shared the stories and auctioned family heirlooms Family1to each other for a family memorial gift to present to a children’s home in the name of our recently deceased cousin Derrell.

We retold stories of Grandpa. We played dominoes and cards together, ate together, sang together, and worshipped together.

We lived family history.

Often, I’ve claimed to have been reared on a church pew. It never occurred to me to ask my parents, but having known them for almost six decades I suspect I went from the hospital to church on the first Sunday of my life.

family3I was born in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Yes, it was in the USA in an actual hospital at the middle of our little town. The state of New Mexico still carried the scent of its new frontier roots.

Its native-born residents and those who came from other states were more of the—can I say make it work—fresh from farm life folks trying to figure out how to create a livelihood without crops, cultivation and harvest. We weren’t exactly on the radar screen of big city people.

family4As with frontier generations my family was from a love by show rather than tell background. Therefore, I don’t recall hearing the word love vocalized much among kinfolks but its expression into my life from family and church was never in doubt.

I knew we were family.

family11I was raised with very clear do’s and don’ts while given a huge amount of freedom

From family, I learned both the concept of sin against God and allegiance to Jesus prior to my own personal encounter with Scripture.

Raised in a time of racial segregation we were far enough off of the radar screen that segregated schools, restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains were never an issue.

Shamefully however, churches and neighborhood were divided along racial lines. At school, many of my best friends were from families of Mexican and African origin. None of those friends were in my church.

family14The family value of education flowed from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncle’s rural school influence of the previous generation. Everyone learned to read.

As we learned to read the skill was aligned with each unique personality to be used throughout life in diverse ways and different degrees.

The reading family value significantly added richness and understanding to my own faith walk. 

It is beyond my comprehension why my birth came within a specific heritage, racial, socio-economic family. I am sure that in ways that I don’t recognize the family lens influences the way I read my Bible.

Because I wasn’t born into your family my Bible doesn’t read like yours.

family6Since you weren’t born into my family and since you walked a different path your own unique familial eyeglasses are made from a completely different set of lenses. It is through those glasses that you read God’s Holy Bible.

God’s Word gets screened through a value system influenced from our family backgrounds.

It is one of many diverse strands that Scripture flows through as God’s inspired message speaks to my soul.

However, as we explore the reality that each person reads her or his Bible from their own unique point of view how can we be assured we hear God’s call? How can I know family12that I am reading what God wants me to hear?

I want to explore the obvious question in the next post. Since we all read the Bible differently, can we all share the heart of Scripture that is the core message of our Bibles?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family

Gary@Godreflection.orghttp://www.GodReflection.org. http://www.MakeYourVissionGoViral.com

You and I Read Our Bible Differently

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguaruja“I didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” was the way an old elder friend often led into words of wisdom he was about to express.

Since I’ve never seen a turnip truck—much less fallen from one—I’m not sure I completely understand the origin and the complete meaning of his expression. I think that was his way to state what seemed obvious to him.

different4As I begin this series of blog posts I feel as if this is a treatment of the obvious. My Bible doesn’t read like yours. You and I read our Bible differently.

It doesn’t take an overabundance of brain cells to observe the fact that the body of Christ is split into thousands upon thousands of tribal churches. And, within each church exist countless divisions.

I hear all sorts of what seems to me to be unreal explanations. Like one I’ve heard most of my life expressed in one form or another: “If only a reader was honest, she or he could correctly read their Bible the way I read mine.”

Although, I’ve observed—to my mind—some rather screwy interpretations of Scripture, I have to believe a lack of basic honesty is not the problem across the body of Christ.

different8In this set of posts, I want to explore the effect that worldview, background,  church traditions, Bible exposure, feelings, religion, tribal warfare and expectations have upon how each of us encounter Holy Scripture.

Is it possible that the way God divinely and uniquely wired every one of us, when mixed with our imperfections as descendants of the Eden fall, make it impossible to see everything alike—even our Bibles?

Since I’m not wired like you why should I spend time and word count on the obvious?

It is because the heart of Jesus expressed time and again His desire that WE ALL love God and each other. Being the human that I am, I find it is far too easy to withhold love from someone who disagrees with me or does not see Scripture the exact same way I do.

different11If we can’t seem to see things alike then what do I hope to accomplish by highlighting our differences?

It is my hope that a look at the differences we bring to our Bibles will help us grow in unity with the Savior and with each other.

If I can better understand why God’s children read Holy Scripture differently I might just see that a sibling in the Lord is not wrong in their interpretation of the Bible; but their different6unique perspective comes through the use of a valid lens that helps them gain greater eyesight to walk with the risen Christ.

I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired word of God. Yet, I know the infallible Bible is always read by fallible men and women.

Isn’t it more important to follow Jesus—The Truth—in faith and trust then it is to demand from each other a unified interpretation of all sixty-six of the books and letters that make up the thirty-one thousand one hundred three verses of our Bibles?

different9There is an attitude I want to cultivate throughout this series of posts in hopes that it will spill over into my life. It comes from a contrast greater than I can possibly imagine.

It is my affirmation that I am a flawed, limited human being with only a speck of a brain when compared to perfect and unlimited God.

In light of my own humanness, shouldn’t I be willing to give a fellow Christ follower a break when our Bibles don’t seem to read the same?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: You and I Read our Bibles Differently

Gary@Godreflection.org  http://www.GodReflection.org


I Believe What You Believe

GodReflection: God Shares His Secret on Unity

garyguarujaI would sometime joke when asked how to raise funds for a Non-Profit Organization: “It’s easy just begin by telling a prospective donor, ‘I believe what you believe.’” Obviously, a person of integrity would never make such an assumption nor believe such an outlandish declaration.

Because each human being is wired and gifted by the Creator as a one-of-a- kind creation and is formed differently through years of unique experiences no two people believe exactly alike.

unity3So how is it possible to live in unity with another person who cannot mirror my belief system—much less attempt unity with millions of individuals who claim to follow a man called Jesus? Especially, when each one differs in the details of the life and worship of a Christ follower.

In Jesus’ last garden prayer, he prayed for the unity of all believers:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one . . . I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11&23)

In one sense his prayer was answered, in another sense it was not.

unity17His church stands unified in belief of Creator God. We share unity in our affirmation that Jesus is the Christ.

The church is in agreement that Jesus is the only means of salvation and we his disciples are his ambassadors to all the earth.

The church is united on belief in the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and the hope found only in him.

Should I take the time and the space to do so, I’m sure I could compile a rather long list to demonstrate the unity and “oneness” we now experience as a fulfillment of Jesus’ John chapter seventeen prayer.

unity26However, we sin when we divide his body into rival church tribes, apply the war paint and throw spears and Satanic missiles at other Christ followers.

When I catch myself in this posture I stand as a roadblock to Jesus’ prayer.

It concerns me when I find myself as a participant in disunity through my own likes, dislikes and prejudices. I am ashamed when I promote a lack of Christ-like behavior by a commitment to my own unbiblical opinions.

unity22I would like to think I am making progress in being less of a disharmonizing person.

It continues to be an enigma to me how on the one hand I know we are all wired differently and think differently and then on the other hand expect others to embrace my opinions as their own.

Could it be that one purpose God has for our walk on earth is to help us gain wisdom in failures; and gain joy in our successes when we see Jesus’ garden prayer being fulfilled in small ways?

Could it be that a primary purpose of my walk on earth is to learn how to, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) so that I can look forward to my next life when unity is the natural Holy-state of all eternity?

unity8I have a current role within God’s revealed secret of His desire for unity. I am to LEARN and to LEAN on His Spirit to be a man of peace.

In my struggle to do so, I am to share with my fellow travelers the secret of peace and unity found in Jesus. A secret learned and expressed through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And, all of that because He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and unity16blameless in his sight . . . God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (Ephesians 1).

And, Jesus’ garden prayer will be answered in full.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Unity

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

The Secret Deliverer

GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

He (Christ the Messiah) was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 1 Peter 1:20

garyguarujaWe humans want to think of deliverance in military and political terms. From the base of power the value of freedom is promised. At the end of the day deliverance and freedom are never fully supplied.

Our expectations come from our shallow experience and from the failure to understand the nature of misguided expectations. My wrong hopes come when I fail to see God’s bigger picture.

Both patriarchs and prophets spoke of promised land and freedom. The Prophets told of a future time when God would send Messiah to deliver and set right all wrongs.

God’s people interpreted those promises through the lens of their own experiences. messiah16Reasoning from the political  resulted in misguided expectation.

For them Messiah was to come in the linage of King David as the God sent conqueror and liberator of the people.

The Hebrew nation would know when the deliverer arrived. They would know him by the actions of his sword and shield. He would be their conquering and liberating king.

As history evolved and Rome came to power Messiah’s arrival could not come too soon. There was one problem. Their expectation was misdirected. Their version of Messiah was not God’s version.

messiah1Their Messiah was tied to palaces not pastures.  They did not see God’s big picture. It was still God’s secret knowledge within the Holy Trinity.

Thus, the true identity and methodology of Messiah was covered behind a secret cloud.

Only the Godhead knew.

We people types had to wait until a baby was born in a hillside cave where livestock was sheltered and fed.

The infant Jesus grew to manhood and took the veil from Messiah to revealed his identity. The secret was out.  Messiah in human flesh was Christ the deliverer. This Christ man personified sonship, grace, love, justice, life, light, body, unity. He was a walking portrait of humility and service. He reflected the way I am to live while on this globe.

Yet, the religious missed him. He did not align with their daily rituals of Temple church messiah13nor with their unshakable belief in the way they defined religion.

Here’s my danger.

I have lived my entire life within a highly structured religious system. With good hearts my church tribe has always desired to follow God.

Like all humans, we have a tendency to institutionalize into a religious form beliefs created by previous generations along with our own conclusions. Often, we see only our closely focused picture rather than the secret God’s unveiled on our behalf.

I must be careful not to miss the revealed Jesus because I am obsessed with right religion rather than Messiah recognition.

As the veil drops I learn:

messiah9He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:9-10).

The ultimate secret shared by God through the Christ child’s birth is I am the benefactor of a God’s secret Deliverer, Jesus the Messiah.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret Deliverer 

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

Eternity In My Genes?

GodReflection: News Flash—We Inherited God’s DNA

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end Ecclesiastes 3:11).

garyguarujaIt’s rather awesome to entertain the thought that God shared His DNA with me.

I assume that most every person who has set foot on planet earth has wondered at some point about what happens after death. Every major religion and all primitive tribes paint pictures of the afterlife for their eternity9adherents.

I was born with eternity in my genes. It came direct from God’s DNA.

Should I be surprised?

After all the God who made me is the One who lives from eternity to eternity. Talk about a sentence that far exceeds human understanding.

Why should I be astonished that the Holy Eternal Being who loves me beyond my comprehension and desires that I live in His presence forever, placed a spark in my soul that draws me in His direction?

The thoughts come to me, what are the implications for me as a possessor of God’s eternity gene? How do I relate to eternity in my here and now?

eternity12First, I want to know with certainty that I’ve identified the creator who implanted His Divine spark.

Through reasons that would go beyond the word limitation of this blog I write the sentence that follows as a summation of my belief that my eternity DNA comes from Creator God:

I’ve tested over a lifetime God’s Holy Scripture and believe the Bible to be inspired and true.  

Therefore, I have no reason to doubt the wise man of Ecclesiastes who wrote: He has also set eternity in the human heart.”

eternity3If in fact it is God who placed eternity in my heart I want to respond with proper care.

At this point in life I’ve heard an incalculable amount of noise and teaching. The noise has a tendency to crowd out brain space I want to reserve for more valuable information.

Since all instruction is filtered through human teachers; I’ve been taught—and believed truth and misconceptions wrongly perceived as truth. Yes, I too have learned and taught noise I one time thought to be true.

eternity13So, here I sit full of noise, truth and error.

Once again how should I respond to Eternal God in my present with confidence that my response will allow me to live with Him forever?

What I think I have learned is that heart soil is where God’s eternity gene grows best.

I have begun to see that a life of “do and don’t do religion” makes the gift of eternity a hit or miss proposition. That is religion rather than gospel good news.

eternity10However, if I live from a grateful heart, full of thankfulness for the heart of a God who loved me so much that He would orchestrate the death of His Son to die in my place there is no room for “do and don’t religion.”

Motivated by God’s love the eternity gene moves me to desire a forever relationship with the Holy rather than a life lived from the motivation to miss an eternal place called hell.

eternity14This week I’ve came across a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son in 1945. It seems relevant to this post:

“Certainly, there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”

Aware of the draw from God’s eternity gene to His restored Eden, Satan wants to trick me into playing the wrong game of does and don’ts rather than learning to live from a heart that identifies with the values of God’s heart.

I suspect the more that my own heart aligns with God’s heart the greater will become the aroma of eternity as a magnetic force of the eternity gene pulls me toward the Holy eternal presence.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Eternity In My Genes?

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org