This is not at this time a TEACHING on what worship is necessarily, but rather what it means to me. I’m departing from a long-held standard of not getting into my personal life on a ministry site because I’ve been asked if I can write an article on what Worship means to me. The only way I can truly explain to you, the reader, the impact it has had on my life, is to share with you how I came to define AND embrace Worship! – Roland Ledoux, Pastor, Oasis Bible Ministry.
Back in 1969 I was invited by a friend (my brother-in-law now) to attend a little neighborhood church. He was a fellow high school classmate who always seemed to have the answers to my questions about God, Church and Religion in general.
That church service changed my life and started me on a life-long adventure that to this day has not let up! For one, it was so totally different than anything I had experienced but it not only opened my eyes to the Author of all the questions that I asked, but also spoke to a rough home-life that was constantly causing stress and tension.
I went up to this small wooden altar at the front of this small, plainly decorated church when the guest minister called out for anyone who wanted to “surrender” their lives to Jesus Christ. All I remember is that wild horses couldn’t keep me from moving forward and even though I had always been an introvert, I wasn’t even aware of the eyes that must have been following me!! That’s when I “surrendered, gave my heart and life, was ‘born again’,” whatever term you want to put on the experience, I accepted the sacrifice of Christ Jesus shed blood for my redemption and all that entailed!
I just wish that someone, the preacher, my best friend, or the pastor of that tiny church would have told me that I would be open to a spiritual onslaught from the very enemy of our souls, not to mention a world that wants nothing to do with spirituality!
The next 14 years found me involved in various areas of youth, prayer and music ministry while also trying to “stay surrendered” to the Lord. I will admit, my spiritual life at that time was an up and down rollercoaster ride. I knew I was called to service, just not what specific area. At the same time, the temptations of life and family kept knocking at my heart and I didn’t always make the right decisions. But here’s the thing, when I accepted the Lord into my heart, of all the people in the Bible that I wanted to be like, I asked the Lord to give me a heart like David; whom Samuel stated “was a man after God’s own heart.” – 1 Samuel 13:14.
But remember, I was young and oh so naïve at the age of 16! It wasn’t until years later that I remembered that request and realized that our Lord takes us at our word if we are honest and sincere in our requests. The thing is, I was going by Samuel’s statement concerning David and didn’t totally understand as to WHY David had that heart.
You see, David KNEW where and in Whom his salvation was. He knew that when he sinned, only God, his Heavenly Father could provide redemption. His faith in the Father’s promises and the Father’s ability to forgive was counted as righteousness. But the only way David learned that, was by recognizing his continual temptations to fall into sin and that his only way to redemption was to seek the Father’s forgiveness. It was that attitude towards God Almighty as a forgiving Father that earned David the statement immortalized by Samuel. . It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was David’s ability to praise, glorify and exalt his Heavenly Father in ALL circumstances that actually gave him that endearing and immortal attribute!
My ups and downs and ins and outs with sin gave me a 90 day county jail term and quite a bit of probation by the time I was 30 years old. Yet even in the midst of my sin before my jail time, I cried out to the Lord to help me for I felt I couldn’t stop what I was doing on my own!! He is ALWAYS faithful and true to hear His children and to do what is best for them; but don’t forget that He is and ever was a JUST Father also. David didn’t sin without consequences in his life. Sin does not happen without consequences. God can and is merciful, but He is always just because He is HOLY!
My best friend, who had become a Pastor in his own right and as my brother-in-law for several years had told me that I could no longer be used by the Lord and that the best I could hope for was to be a faithful congregant and sit, be silent and learn. Now you have to understand, I had worked with him on many church ministries and he had been my best friend, but one of the consequences of sin, is losing some of those you love.
I had for several months bought into that lie that God could no longer use me, despite all the teaching I had learned and all the experiences with my Heavenly Father to the contrary. But you see, like David, the Lord had a plan for my life and true to the Scriptures that Paul wrote in Romans 8:26-28, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
My family ended up moving from my hometown of Yakima, Washington with some church friends to Tucson, Arizona. We knew beyond doubt that this was the Lord’s will for us due to prayer and other circumstances of the Spirit. It wasn’t easy to leave family behind for Yakima was mine and Sue’s town of our birth. Our family, our history was there, but also, the very things that were holding us back from doing the Lord’s will was also there. One of the things I had told the Lord was that I would willingly go where ever He led us.
The several months before our move had been a time of growth, a time of sincere repentance, a time of forgiveness for both myself and those whom couldn’t understand (for whatever reason) that God’s “gifts and callings are irrevocable.” (Please read Romans 11:29-32.) There were those in my church family that believed and encouraged me “with God all things are possible” and that forgiveness is for those who repent and are willing, by the Spirit, to follow the path that our Lord has set before us.
We spent a year in Tucson, trying out different churches, trying to be a part, trying to be servants for the Lord and our brothers and sisters in the Lord and nothing seemed right. The Lord was teaching us still and we WERE learning, some things how NOT to do them and in other areas, what does work.
Finally, the friends we moved with suggested a church they had attended but which wasn’t “Pentecostal” enough for them. They said it was a friendly church with a fairly new minister, the praise music was good, the preaching was good but it was more “Charismatic” than “Pentecostal.” Sue and I decided we would try it, but the closer to Sunday it got, the more I found reason to not go. Then Father’s Day was approaching and this was 1984, and I told my wife that we would go but after Father’s Day because churches always have these programs and since we were new I didn’t want to draw attention.
Let me say this, I am married to a Proverbs 31 woman in all ways. She loves the Lord with all her heart and she LISTENS to His Spirit. She KNEW what the Holy Spirit was preparing before I did for I was still suffering emotionally more than intellectually what others had said concerning being used by the Lord. Well, suffice it to say, that the closer Father’s Day was approaching, the more I became convinced in spirit that we HAD to go to church!! The Holy Spirit was sure doing a number on me!!
We didn’t know anyone in that church but we silently drove there wondering what to expect. We walked through the double doors and were immediately greeted by a couple of elders. They gave us the visitor cards and we were engaged in some small talk when all of a sudden a man approached and introduced himself as the Pastor. Right off the bat, he stated that he had something to tell me specifically, but first he asked if I had ever led “Praise and Worship.” That was the first thing this complete stranger asked me.
I looked to my wife and to the elder we had been talking too, then addressed the Pastor with a bit of a nervous chuckle and told him, “Yeah, but it was more like, turn to page 230 and let’s sing such and such a hymn.” I told him I always thought there should be so much more than just three songs, then the next program.
He then told me that the Holy Spirit had shared with him that I was to be the next Praise and Worship minister and that I would be leading the church in a whole different direction for worship. He told me that the Spirit showed him I would be hesitant and nervous but that he was to give me time to pray and seek the Lord. Remember, this was all within the first 10 or 15 minutes of arriving at a church we had never been too!!!
Needless to say, I said I would pray about it; but I almost didn’t go back!! Not that it necessarily scared me for I had seen how the Holy Spirit works from time to time. I had also seen how people claimed things from the Spirit that were not. I have always felt this; if the Holy Spirit is going to talk to you for someone else, He is already talking to them! I couldn’t deny that He had been melting my heart for just such an experience!
Yes, we did go back and we attended for about a month getting to know the people, the goals of the church and what they would like to see in the direction of the church. During that time, I had been in private meetings with the Pastor, knowing that I would have to share my up and down path and also the legal trouble I had been in. I knew I had to be transparent if I was to be a leader of anything let alone PRAISE AND WORSHIP!! I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that this Pastor who believed in fervent prayer, already had a general idea of my spiritual state.
Through this Pastor who believed firmly in Discipleship (another message for later) I learned about true surrender in heart and spirit. I learned about the value of accountability to my peers as well as my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
I did become Praise and Worship Pastor for almost two years while the Holy Spirit taught me the importance of a relationship with our Heavenly Father through the Son, Jesus Christ and empowered by the Spirit. You will see that statement in a lot of my teachings for you HAVE to have a relationship first!
That church changed total direction under the Pastor’s leadership and what the Holy Spirit led me into concerning true worship. People came to church prayed up ready for whatever the Holy Spirit had prepared for them. The Praise was done to in such a way that people’s minds were centered on the Lord first and foremost and only when the congregation came together in unity did the Pastor get up to teach. This prepared the hearts for the teaching, because people were sensitive to the manifestation of the Holy Spirit within their presence and it leant power and authority to the Word of God!!! AND — it didn’t stop there! People went home and to work with an expectation to see the hand of God at work through them! They were excited to take what they had learned from Sunday and eventually Wednesday services to those they worked with and those that they were neighbors with.
And me? I learned that personal praise and worship in a congregation can lead to serving others first so that they no longer become spectators of my worshipping but actual participants to that worship. I learned that the best worship was when we were prepared ahead of time even before we entered the sanctuary of the church. We carried worship of our Heavenly Father into the sanctuary! We didn’t have to be “pumped up” to get into a state of worship, we helped others to experience that very same thing in their relationship with the Lord.
Worship and Praise of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and of our Heavenly Father is a state of the spirit. It is not an intellectual endeavor, but rather a heart endeavor. It is a mindset, so to speak, and when you have practiced it on a continual basis, it is just what is defined by Christianity itself, it is a lifestyle relationship!
Since that formative time in my life, I have endeavored to practice what I learned. I was ordained in that church and that Pastor, because of his willingness to surrender his all to the Lord and to the leading of the Holy Spirit, helped me to understand what real surrender is. Worship to me? It is the enduring relationship with my Redeemer and getting to know the Father is a truly transparent and personal way through His Son! Worship is a state of heart and spirit because our Heavenly Father IS worthy of our lives and all that each and every one of us is in Him!