Dual Streams

Reading time: 3 mins

Don River

It was a perfect summer day; slow and warm, yet filled with all the possibilities of adventure and exploration that a twelve year old mind could imagine. The heavily canopied creek bed begged to be jumped into, surveyed, and enjoyed. Slightly downstream from under this lush green foliage lay a simple, rock and bush-laden land mass.

It didn’t really qualify as an island per se; you could easily jump onto the embankment and back up the trail to the house with just a short run-up to it. Yet this stubborn elevation of earth—small pebbles, loose soil, and a few larger than average weeds—boldly directed one of the most potent forces in all of nature to obey its will.

The course of the stream, originating far from this place, broke into two co-equal paths at its head, flowed smoothly around the edges of the sandbar, and then rejoined again at its backside, from there onward as if the thing had never happened.

This was the scene I found myself in during a two week stay in Central-Western Washington State, at the family home of my friends grandparents. With a full fourteen days to kill, we needed things to do. Beside the episode where one of us unleashed the fury of an entire hornets nest as we walked unknowingly over it in the woods, and the completely predictable adolescent fistfight that came as a result of two housebound days of boredom-inducing rain, this little creek bed served as a gold mine of adventure and twelve year old delight.

There were crawdads. There were a few places deep enough to wade in.

And there was this little island.

It created a wonderful and enduring image for me: of one idea or truth residing in multiple, symbiotic parts, and it helps me size up what is being taught about the two beautiful streams of worship we are introduced to in Hebrews 13:15-16. Here’s the text:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Admittedly, this is one those passages that seems to slip by our worship radar, unnoticed for some reason. It really shouldn’t.

I would argue that it serves as a powerful summary and call to the whole life of worship we are invited into by the finished work of Christ and the power of the Spirit in us. A passage we should get to know a little better, even as we begin to live out its possibilities. It frames up for us a wonderful “both/and” of two kinds of sacrifice; each unique, but each a foundational part of what it means to give a full, living offering of worship to Jesus.

Praise. The fruit of our lips is the praise He alone is due. It springs forth from a heart set on God, wanting to know and exalt Him in every moment. It’s the natural verbal overflow of an internal profession: that Christ is all, in all, and deserves all. This offering has a frequency—continual, and a source: through Jesus, the seated-at-the-right-hand One, always interceding for us before the Father.

Projection. This harvest (“fruit”) of the heart is matched perfectly by actions that serve. It’s an offering of doing good and sharing with others. This is the projection of God’s heart and character into the world through us. As we stoop to the low, step into the circumstances of the needy, and just do “good” in a broken, stunted world we escort the will and presence of God into it. This is both mysterious and miraculous; showing Him to be who He really is, and then resulting in honor: worship.

So, according to Hebrews 13, as we worship we both praise and we project. We speak and we live. We utter and inhabit.

These are two co-equal pathways of the same spiritual reality.

Which stream of worship-life do you more readily identify with? Which is more natural, easier for you? And how will you put both into play, this very day? Because today is a day meant for worship.

Both kinds: praise and projection.

3 thoughts on “Dual Streams”

  1. Good stuff Wayne. We have a river that runs through in our neighborhood that created a visual for me here on a Monday morning. Thank you for that.
    Praise or projection. Both for me.

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