Interview with Mike O’Brien
I am 42 years old now and work as a worship team coach/mentor, songwriter, and music producer. My wife, Susan and son Ezekiel live in Atlanta GA.
I started leading musical worship when I was 14 during youth camp. From there I helped plant a church in my early 20’s and helped lead that worship ministry for 18 years. That one little church recorded 5 full length albums and dozens of “singles” of worship songs that were created for our local expression of faith. We called the band “Poured Out Like Wine” and it was the catalyst for developing dozens of worship leaders and musicians. During my tenure there I also became a traveling trainer and published songwriter for Vineyard Worship USA. I am currently building a school of worship for the Vineyard movement of churches.
Find out more about Mike’s work at theMikeO.com.
Worship is the adoration, attention, affection we give to a person, place or thing.
For “Christian” worship, I always lean on my friend Dan Wilt’s response:
“Worship is a response of loving allegiance (the reason)
To God (our Loving Father and Creator of Life),
We worship(ed) our first romantic interest. We worship food. We worship the “good ole days” via nostalgia. Many worship Jesus Christ in their private lives and/or in a worship gathering (called the Church). I believe everyone is born worshipping.
We worship best together, alongside others in a loving community. I believe we are designed in the image of God, who is Himself a community of Father, Son and Spirit. As individuals, we are welcomed into his community (the church) which in turn glorifies the one true God, who is actually three persons. In short, I think getting out of bed and going to a church to be seen and see others is a great place to worship!
I think we can worship God at concerts (not just Christian ones), at the movies, and while we are grocery shopping. For instance, I might see the color spread in the fruit section and give God glory for his vast abundance of sustenance. After movies I am always amazed at how the story of God (forgiveness, redemption) is ultimately at the core of the strangest stories.
When we worship the creator (versus created things) we come alive and are connecting to the source of everything good. I think singing, meditating in prayer, and silence can be acts of worship that bring peace in our lives.
Absolutely. Many or most instances of worship in the Bible show us that often times worship comes from great times of trial. I never heard my friend Josh sing a single note in his life until he was on his deathbed. A few weeks before he passed away he was singing the hymns of his childhood, even in his morphine haze. Our worship is never discounted. If we are not 100%, that is a perfectly acceptable to God. Jesus perfects our prayers.
It’s OK. It happens to everyone. I sure the Pope even struggles to stay focused as he sings or reads the same prayers over and over again.
Jesus’s disciples actually saw him do many miracles and their lives were changed. Even they fell asleep when Jesus asked them to pray. We struggle to focus. You might have moments or years when focusing is more of a struggle, but I believe if you keep showing up he will meet you again.
Know that something or someone will want to command your ultimate affection – it’s up to us to walk towards Jesus.
Matthew 5:23 – “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
I love the idea that God is so eager for reconciliation between people that he tells us to lay down our Christ worship to make things right with one another. He is secure. He loves us. He loves a reconciled community.
Points to Ponder
What created things do you worship? Next time you find yourself giving adoration to something created, consider turning to the Creator. What is the result of worhiping Him instead?
Singing joyful worship music when you’re feeling sad or mad may seem unfeasable. What’s a different form of worship that you can use during times of negative emotions? Think outside of the box. Remember that worship is anything that shows adoration, attention or affection.
Worship can be as simple as:
- Pausing for a few seconds before your morning commute to speak truths about who God is, like “You are a loving Father. You are my protector.”
- Raising a hand up to him in the midst of tears.
- Telling him that you devote the next 5-minute walk to class to him.
- Remembering him as Creator when you see the sunrise or when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.
Worship doesn’t have to be peppy and JoyFM-ish. It doesn’t have to be peaceful or eloquent. You can meet Jesus no matter what emotion you’re feeling, no matter where you are on your spiritual walk, and no matter what the circumstance.