I had a professor once describe worship in terms of loyal dogs. Actually, the Bible uses that word to describe it.

Well actually, it’s like this… things have to be translated from other things.

There. That sounds educated.

But really, in the New Testament, there is a word that is translated into “worship.” It’s a little like translating a nuclear meltdown into “big fire.” You lose some of the nuance. This word in specific is “proskuneo.”

It has two meanings that only cooperate if you own a dog.

One meaning is to kiss the hand, like a dog.

The other is do perform homage on the ground, either in a kneeling position or prostrate position.

If you have ever owned a dog, you know how it goes. You’re standing there, minding your own business, checking your social media, drinking your coffee, watching a game, or talking to a live human being and then all of a sudden…


Doggo licks your hand.

My dog? She will lick my hand, sit, and then cock her head to the side. It is an invitation to do one of three things, feed her, walk her, or roll around on the floor with her. The hand lick, though, is one of those moments of fidelity in a dog that we would be good to copy. It is simply a signal. “I am here, and I know that only you can deliver my needs. But I wait.” If I am on the ground with my sons, she will sit or lay down and roll over to still put me at an elevation above her and then…


One of us takes a proskuneo across the hand or the face.

Worship is many things. It is living and breathing with a purpose and mission to pursue God. It is singing. It is silence. It is stillness. It is forward momentum into tomorrow.

It is faithfully submitting a moment to the mastery of God, to kiss the ground toward Him and submit ourselves to Him and His timing. Yes, we don’t lick the hand of God, but we do affectionately long for an understanding of validity. We direct our time and attention toward Him because we have basic needs that only He can fill.

Is it wrong to bring our needs to God? If not, we begin to wander into the territory of “the Lord helps them who help themselves,” a phrase found in absolutely zero translations of the actual Bible. After all, if you have helped yourself and depended completely and utterly upon yourself, what need do you have for God? If you spend no time thanking God for His provision of your strength, for His provision of those who have trained you in sufficient skill to do work, or for His provision of resources through your earnings, who do you say owns them?

It is an important tension to allow and not chase away at first sniff.

It is important for us to feel the strength in our hands and hearts.

It is important to look at a problem and have the courage to solve it.

It is also really stinking important to go into every situation knowing the grace of God looks on our situation and provides for solutions.

God declared it. David echoed it. God has zero use for hundreds of sacrifices with zero heart behind them. We see the same sentiment echoes by Paul when it came to the support for his missionary journeys. When writing to the Corinthians about how ridiculously generous the Macedonians were, he said, “For I sought not what was yours, but you.” God is the same. He does not look for our stuff. It’s HIS. What He’s looking for is the gift of the one thing He has given to us that is completely within our control to give or withhold.

It is our hearts and our relationship within.

He has not withheld His own. And He waits patiently for us to realize our extraordinary need for a relationship with Him.

How I live for the moments
When I’m still in Your presence
All the noise dies down
Lord speak to me now
You have all my attention
I will linger and listen
I can’t miss a thing

David, in Psalm 29 calls on the angels themselves to “ascribe glory to God.” Ascriptive worship is proclamation and praise so emphatic of the worthiness of the object of worship that it is completely and utterly selfless.

Want to know how to lose your narcissism? Spend time realizing just how not-God you are.

Yesterday, my son was describing the food in front of him as hot. First one of the other said, “Watch out, guys, this is hot!”

Another said, “It’s hot like lava!”

My oldest said, “It’s hot like God fire.”

I had two conclusions.

1. Texas is hot enough to inspire my son to explore new descriptions for hot.

2. He gets that to trump all other descriptors, put God as the ultimate source and there is nothing stronger.

In other words, my son already excels at the action David called upon the heavenly host to perform.

We look at the power and might that is ascribed to God in Psalm 29 and we have two conclusions therein:

1. God is powerful in creativity and brute strength.

2. His might compels reaction.

Lord, I know my heart wants more of You
My heart wants something new
So I surrender all [2]

We find here, not only is God powerful, but He is also personal. He is intimately interested in our survival and fellowship. Warren Wiersbe says of this reality, “God has ordained that everything we are and do will flow out of worship as ‘blessed by products’ of our fellowship with God.” [3]

So there at the intersection of ultimate power and intimate fellowship we must find some voice to describe our awe. The psalmists and musicians of the ages have spent millennia in this pursuit and one of their refrains is in the search for more understanding.

St Francis himself once quipped, “I do not seek to understand so that I may believe. I seek to believe so that I may understand.” Within that framework is the burden of true creatorship placed back into the mind of God and out of our own devices.

All I want is to live within Your love
Be undone by who You are
My desire is to know You deeper
Lord I will open up again
Throw my fears into the wind
I am desperate for a touch of heaven [4]

That proskuneo, that desperation for validation of existence from the One who breathed it into us cannot be overstated. Our desire is a whole and healthy drive to find fulfillment in the one desire that will not destroy us in its pursuit. Pursuit of romance in and of itself beyond anything deeper ends in shallow lust and disappointment of expectations. Pursuit of power and position ends in corruption and compromise of ideals negating the purity of the initial intention. Pursuit of charitable living outside of the context of the heart of God leads to an unhealthy overappreciation of our own humanitarian bent. Pursuit of fellowship among people as the main drive will always end in a lack of the depth for which our hearts were created.

The pursuit of God reveals and refines us. It is the only pursuit that does not disappoint. And in that pursuit we see other pursuits purified and honored.

And here now, in the waiting of the moment when we have kissed the ground toward God and *blepped* at His providing hand, we turn our eyes, our ears, our senses toward Heaven just hungry for the hint of what is to come and what will be revealed in His grace and His timing.

1. Aodhan King, Hannah Hobbs, and Michael Fatkin, “Touch of Heaven,” There is More, Hillsong, 2018.

2. Ibid.

3. Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000) 29.

4. King, Hobbs, and Fatkin.

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