A couple weeks ago I had the privilege to work with Alicia Williamson Garcia during a ladies conference in south Georgia. I was leading worship at the conference, and Alicia was the featured concert artist. Her bubbly and humble spirit, coupled with her amazing talent and sensitivity to the Spirit, would win over anybody.
Along with her concert ministry, Alicia teaches students in the Center for Worship at Liberty University. We exchanged books while at the conference. (She is recommending our worship study, Praise More Powerful, to her colleagues to use at Liberty!) I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her book and want to encourage you, our readers, to order a copy and read it for yourselves.
Below is my review of her book, A Seeking Heart: Rediscovering True Worship:
A Seeking Heart was written in 2004 by Alicia Williamson Garcia and Sarah Groves. Published by New Hope Publishers, it is a standard size 157-page book that opens with a forward by Kay Author. Overall the book is well-written and easy to read. It is balanced with solid Bible references and intriguing illustrations. Although it is clearly written for women, men (like me!) can learn great truths about worship as well.
The introduction for the book appropriately sets the tone for all the reader is going to discover throughout its pages:
“Have you ever asked yourself why Christians are so divided on the issue of worship? I mean, do we raise our hands or not? Do we sing praise choruses or hymns? Do we stand or do we sit? Is it a church thing or an everyday thing? Is it a charismatic thing, or it the meaning of true worship left up to the individual for interpretation? The body of our Lord Jesus Christ is split over the subject of worship, yet worship should be the very thing that unites us.” (from p. 1)
The thesis statement for Chapter 1 – called Worship from Knowing – is found near the end of that chapter. Alicia writes, “Knowing the Word of God is beginning of true worship.” Chapter 1 includes a helpful and methodical approach to studying and applying the Bible.
Chapters 2 and 3 are written by Sarah Groves. She exhorts the reader to not lose sight of true worship, which is easy to do even for those in full-time ministry. She banishes several different and common excuses for not making time for God: I’m too busy, I’m bored, I’m distracted, I’m lazy and so forth. We are encouraged to passionately pursue getting to know God. An overarching theme in the book is highlighted: Worship is our response to God.
The middle chapters warn of temptations that Satan would throw our way as we determine to be true worshipers. Chapter titles like “Heart of the Matter” and the “Right Kind of Heart” help us realize that a sincere and correct focus on and love for the one, true God is most important. The heart is the source of true worship.
Chapter 7 details Alicia’s struggle through cancer. She compares her potential losing of everything to cancer to that of Abraham losing Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. She goes on to explain the sacrifice of dying to ourselves and living to God.
Chapter 8 is my personal favorite. It is called, “Right Worship, Wrong Motive.” This chapter strikes a chord of unfortunate familiarity with me. Alicia writes:
“It’s hard to believe how familiar with God we have become. It seems like we have mastered our programming and our lifestyle of churchgoing, and there is really little, if any, place for God to be God.”
She follows these poignant words with personal examples from the many services and conferences she has been a part of.
“I have been told by people who followed me in a program not to allow the Spirit of God to move because they had a flight to catch and they wanted to make sure they had enough time for their presentation.” (from p. 110)
The final two chapters detail how we are to be true worshipers at home, at work, at church and in our community and how we will one day be worshipers before the very throne of God. These practical applications and future perspectives give the book a well-rounded message and appeal.
The book ends with practical and helpful suggestions and expressions for personal worship. Many of these are actually outward ways to praise. The writers do not distinquise between worship and praise. However, within the scope of this introduction to worship, no distinction needs to be explained. The obvious goal of this hour-long read is not to fill our heads full of knowledge about worship as much as it is to bring the reader back to the heart of worship – a heart that passionately and persistently seeks after God. In the end, that is what matters most to God.
(c) 2007 by Dwayne Moore