Just like our own fingerprints identify us as unique individuals, the handiwork of God on our lives marks us as unique, individual children of God. No one else's story is exactly like yours and no one else's testimony of God's power and grace on their lives is exactly like yours. No one else's worship will ever resound through the atmosphere like yours will because other people's praises operate on a different wavelength than yours. That is a great thing, especially when we gather together to worship in a corporate setting and each of our own unique faith-lives blend together in a chorus of harmonious fullness. Don't let your wavelength of worship flat-line!!! THE WORSHIP YOU RELEASE TO GOD IS VITAL!

Our lifestyle of worship makes us an interface where anyone we meet can experience God because we carry the aroma of His presence!

WORSHIP IS A LIFESTYLE NOT AN EVENT. In the heart of true believers, worship is not what we do...it is who we are. We are the people who wake up, take a big breath and thank God for another day to experience life in Him. We are the people who live aware of God's workings in every part of our lives - even the seemingly minute ones - and refuse to let fate or coincidence get the praise. We are the people who turn, even in the midst of pain and loss, to God as our Divine Source for healing, hope and restoration knowing that in His Sovereignty He will work all things together for our good. This ascribes the worthiness of trust to His great name. Our garment of praise is the only thing we can wear through the good, the not so good, the mundane and the exciting happenings of everyday, and everything in between, and it smells better the longer we have it on! Our lifestyle of worship makes us an interface where anyone we meet can experience God because we carry the aroma of His presence!

THERE ARE TWO TIMES WHEN YOU PRAISE HIM: WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT AND WHEN YOU DON'T. Sometimes we tend to think that our feelings of weariness, worry, pain, busyness or even bitterness justify some sort of neutrality that simply doesn't exist when it comes to pursuing relationship with God. We might be tempted with the thought of "Well I'm not going to be a hypocrite and just say or do things I don't feel." (Side note - I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't "feel" like being crucified and offered as the once-for-all atonement for our sin either!) True praise is not a fake-it-'til-you-make-it pep talk; it comes from the settled-in-your-heart kind of faith that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that no circumstance, disease, loss, misunderstanding, fatigue, depression, situation, relationship or any other thing could ever unseat the King of Kings from His throne! Nothing we go through minimizes the God-ness of God and therefore nothing we go through minimizes His worthiness of our worship. Aren't you glad your feelings don't control His deity?!?! I'm unspeakably grateful that whether I feel like praising or not, the worthiness of His divine character is never defined by my emotions! What a relief!

True praise is not a fake-it-'til-you-make-it pep talk

DON'T GET IN A HURRY WHEN YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE OF THE KING. It's great to set aside time to worship but don't let it be another check mark on your to-do list for the day. If worship is a duty or an event or a feeling, then once I spend a few minutes to accomplish my goal I can move on. But if worship is my opportunity to step out of hustle of a clock-eyed world and into the present presence of the Eternal One, then all I want to do is linger there. I don't even have to always sing or talk, but just be face to face with the King of Glory. John said it like this, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). We can't behold anyone or anything toward which we just take a passing glance. We have to fix our gaze, our attention, our focus on Him and that takes more than a few seconds. It is a purposeful, intentional act of our will and energy and it is worth every moment. Take the time to behold Him and discover who the Great I Am is.

WORSHIP IS NOT A MANIPULATION TOOL; IT IS AN ATMOSPHERE WHERE GOD’S GOODNESS OVERFLOWS. There are many, many, many effects on our personal lives as a result of being in God's presence in worship. Healing happens. Chains are broken. Provision is released. Refuge is found. The enemy is even forced to flee. Our lives simply cannot remain as they are when we experience His presence. Let our attitude never be that worship is simply the means to those ends, however! Let us worship God because HE IS our all in all, our EVERYTHING. When I'm worshipping in His presence, the very essence of His greatness cannot help but overshadow my lack, my pain, my need, my shame...even my chains can't stay on because His love for me and in me is greater than any other restraint. Let God and His goodness, His GOD-ness, be enough to compel your heart to worship. You don't even have to worship to defeat the devil. Jesus already did that at the cross so let’s give no place to the devil – especially in our worship time. Let the focus of our worship be GOD and the victory He’s already secured will manifest in our lives! WORSHIP GOD BECAUSE HE IS! His goodness always takes care of the rest.

Worship is not a manipulation tool, it is an atmosphere where God's goodness overflows.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE "PERFECT" OR "GOOD ENOUGH" TO ENTER GOD'S PRESENCE AND WORSHIP. I once spent numerous worship services trying to get past tormenting self-condemnation in my mind about not being good enough to be in God's presence. A grace paradigm shift in my soul came through a continual unveiling of His love toward me, of His perfect and complete work of grace through His death, burial & resurrection, and the realization that I am accepted in the Beloved based solely on His doing and not mine. The very essence of worship became alive in me when it came from faith in Him and not fear of my inadequacy. My experience of worship became a comparison of His greatness and love to my new creation life instead of a discouraging contrast between His holiness and my failures. Not only did my understanding change but so did the actual vocalization of my praises. My words changed from the like of "I'm so unworthy of Your love and mercy" to "Thank You for the greatness of Your love and mercy that made me a new creation!"

I WANT TO ONLY GIVE GOD MY BEST. Mother's Day in my house brings an outpouring of handmade cards, crafts from school, lots of hugs and songs, and countless "Happy Mother's Day" greetings. My children’s gifts are not ornate and expensive, but the joy evident on their faces is priceless when I receive each of their handmade offerings of love and accept each one with joy and thankfulness just like they are rare, priceless works of art that belong in museums and serenades from the most grand choirs in the world. My children want to give me their best and at this point in their lives, paper and crayons constitute their best...which is why paper and crayons are like silver and gold on Mother’s Day. As children of God, "best" we have to offer of ourselves can vary from day to day. Sometimes my best is a very boisterous, vocal praise that is overflowing. Sometimes my best is a quiet, resilient, emotionless "hallelujah" that it takes all of the faith & trust within me to just to muster. Giving my best to my Lord is important to me because that's exactly what Jesus has done for me. He poured out ALL of His love, blood and goodness for me; I desire my worship to be nothing less than fitting for such love and it is when I offer ALL of me!

Becky Baldwin is the worship pastor at Covenant World Outreach in Carthage, Mo.